Stress and Your Immune System

Showing off the bagels I made from Against the Grain cookbook, as well as some homemade bone broth soup with some beans and okra from our garden.  It's the little things!

Showing off the bagels I made from Against the Grain cookbook, as well as some homemade bone broth soup with some beans and okra from our garden. It’s the little things!

Would you say that you lead a stressful lifestyle?

I know I wouldn’t have considered MY life overly stressful… At least, I didn’t think so?
God designed our “flight or flight” mechanism from our adrenal glands to kick in, during a life or death situation…

When that response is triggered… all other systems in our body are essentially “put on hold” so that all of our energy can be put into our adrenalin rush – so we could “run for our life” is the situation arises.

So what happens when we live in a chronic state of stress?  What happens when we “stress” on a daily basis about things that aren’t life and death?

Things like…. kids, and finding shoes, bickering, questions, friends, meals, organization, sports, work deadlines, traffic, when will you fit that workout in, and just how are we going to get it all done?

We glorify things like multitasking, and extremely busy schedules don’t we?
I know always prided myself on trying to “do it all”… But what was the cost?

That stress “overload” on the body is called adrenal failure, and it can show up with lots of different symptoms.

For me, when I was tired, I would mask it with multiple types of caffeine.  Soda, coffee, tea..  I wasn’t picky.  When I finally gave up soda, I moved on to coffee and tea.  I was drinking it for the wrong reason.

A little workout boost here, an afternoon pick me up there…

Slowing down was in my list of options.  I just knew, I didn’t feel well … and it never occurred to me that trying to continually mask those symptoms would have dire consequences.

That’s how we live life, don’t we?  We don’t think anything is an issue – until we can no longer function when it’s holding us back.

When I reached rocked bottom, instead of the fight or flight feeling?  I felt completely wiped out when a stressful even happened.  It’s almost as if I could feel my body become unplugged…and then I’m done the rest of the day.

No.  Seriously.  It literally wipes me out.

As an example, I had a stressful situation with my work a few weeks back, and as the situation progressed and clearly the person wanted to have a confrontation,  I could just feel my body take a hormonal dump and I became immediately exhausted  There was so fight in me.  I feel weak saying this, but it’s just best for me to avoid these types of situations… at all cost.  It’s not 100% preventable, but at this point in my health journey – it’s essential for me being well.

I have been on a path to de-stress my life in any way I can… because the truth of that matter is, my life IS pretty stressful everyday, and there are things I simply can’t change anytime in the near future.  There were also lots of things I used to think I didn’t have options in, that have since not made the cut in my life.  My husband has been very helpful in this area – getting help with my workload, encouraging me that something isn’t that big of  deal to say no to, and pretty much doing anything that HE knows stresses me out.

It simplifies things, that’s for sure.

Stress is a major contributor to the toxicity of our immune system, triggering auto immune disease and cancer … but just how and why does this happen?
When we’re chronically stressed – and our fight or flight is “triggered” …  this shuts down every other system in the body and puts that energy into that “life or death” mechanism…. Meanwhile, our immune system is  on the back burner allowing things like gut bacteria to run rampant… which then can lead to things leaky gut, and chronic inflammation.

Whether the stress is emotional, a physical event, or something like illness or daily medication that can stress our system – it’s ALL STRESS on the body, and it’s toxic.  Masking it with more pills, caffeine or burying it to pretend it doesn’t exist does NOT allow your body to heal from these types of stresses.
So truly, you can be eating 100% awesome, yet still struggling greatly with healing your body…  stress is THAT dangerous to our health.

Imagine the trickle down effect of how stress affects your sleep, your hormones and mental well-being or how things cycle around and affect one another with a leaky gut leading to things such as vitamin deficiencies – that lead to things like mental disorders, anxiety, or hormonal imbalances.
Stress certainly has a MAJOR affect on your immune system and overall health.

Another example of why things like prayer, exercise and close relationships (especially support groups and Bible study groups) are essential for your health, and well-being.  Studies have shown that having the ability to connect, and release that stress is vital to our well-being.

Helping others also has great health benefits with it as well. (just as long as you can do it within your stress-limits!)  I used to take on other people’s stress, and that isn’t healthy either.  Know your limits.  Don’t be afraid to honest with people, and practice saying NO.

For me, I can pin point several stressful episodes in my life…I had definite dreams expectations when we were young and first married also, and our real life (with lots of little children and demanding family) was also nothing how I anticipated our future to look like.  I’m not sure 8 kids was on my mind – as to what that would look like – but let’s just say we’re not in the majority.  It turns out when you do things differently (and have more than 2 children), the world  isn’t going to pat you on the back. Due to thoughtless family commentary,  I spent a lot of time feeling guilty for having more children, often hiding pregnancies early on and dreading announcing them… All in the name of obeying God’s call for our family.  That fetal stress is obviously passed on as well.

You too might feel like an outcast, and there will be times you will be lonely… Consider this one of the greatest blessings God gives to you.  When you are alone, you have the opportunity to learn and grow and be lonely for God.  Being in His presence will provide you with so much strength, peace and assurance of the path He has you on for His glory.

It is by God’s grace and unwavering love I am reminded I cannot do it all, and I’m not supposed to do it all.  Life will go on.   I will get done what He wills me to do, nothing more – nothing less.  My job is to do what I can, and I handle stress a lot differently now.  It’s how I keep my stress in check, Healthy for Him.

“She did what she could.”
Mark 4:18

Posted on August 31, 2013, in Celiac/Gluten Sensitivity, Our Struggles, Truth and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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