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Stressful September

Published:

How was your day?

a) not at all stressful
b) not very stressful
c) a bit stressful
d) quite stressful
e) extremely stressful
 
Look below and see what other Canadians are saying!  

A fresh start or the return to a hectic routine?

September is known as the second most stressful month of the year. Most people do not realize that re-shifting bedtimes, arranging school lunches and pickups, along with increased work hours can overstimulate our stress hormones and overwhelm the body. It’s a fact that stress is now an all-too-familiar condition of modern existence. Approximately one-third of Canadian adults ages 35 to 54 describe most days as “quite” or “extremely” stressful.

What Is Stress?

The stress response is a natural survival response for all living beings. During stressful episodes, the body releases chemicals and hormones, including cortisol, that prepare you for fight or flight — your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense, and your brain consumes more oxygen to support increased mental activity. In the short term, the stress response, a concept first defined by Canadian researcher Dr. Hans Selye in 1936, even boosts the immune system.

What… Me Worry?

Stress has become a health concern because our lives are sedentary and our stresses — work pressures, congested traffic, family illnesses, financial issues and personal conflicts — never cease. So unlike the white-tailed deer that taps into its surge of stress hormones to flee a wolf attack, your stressed-out body does all the metabolic preparation for fight or flight, but sits stewing in an office chair, on the couch at home or in the driver’s seat in gridlocked traffic.
 
That chronic stress response eventually leads to hormonal and metabolic changes that turn against your body. The same chemicals and hormones that help you succeed in short bursts will eventually suppress vital body functions, such as immunity, digestion, excretion and reproduction. Over prolonged periods, stress disturbs your sleep and increases anxiety and inflammation in the body. It affects your heart rate, muscle tension, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Stress also adversely affects how the body uses nutrition and what vitamins and minerals it needs. In the extreme, stress can quickly develop into abdominal weight gain, obesity and diabetes.

The unmanaged stress cycle, driven by cortisol, becomes a self-perpetuating cycle that is triggered by decreasingly stressful situations. And as we age, we naturally release more cortisol for the same stressor.