Stress — what is it and how do you address it?

Stress is the body's natural reaction to a change that requires a physical, mental or emotional adjustment or response. The human body is an open and dynamic living system. Any incoming stimulus stresses the body or mind, and requires it to make an adjustment, no matter how minute. As human beings, if we weren’t being bombarded by stressful stimuli in every millisecond, and without homeostasis (the body’s own automatic in-built ability to return to balance) making the appropriate responses, we would die. It’s as simple as that.

We tend to think of stress as something ‘bad’, or ‘life-threatening’. But, why does stress have such negative connotations?

When we live a life that is in balance, our bodies are healthy, and thrive. But when the body has to make too many compensations, or has to do this too much of the time, this balance is disrupted. There is another word, which, in physics, tends to be associated with stress, and that is strain. The difference is that stress tends to be reversible, but strain is permanent deformation. If you stretch a spring gently it will return to its original form when you let go, and there is no permanent deformation; stretch it too far and the result is permanent damage. Similarly, in the human body, once stress becomes too great, the homeostatic, self-correcting mechnisms begin to fail, and ill-health ensues.

When stress becomes a long-term condition, the adrenal glands hardly switch off. The resulting high levels of adrenaline and cortisol start to disrupt the functioning of the body’s systems. There is an overwhelming obesity epidemic these days, and our adrenal hormones have a tremendous effect on how we create energy from our bodies’ reserves, either converting the body’s fat stores into energy, or leaving the fat deposits at the expense of muscle tissue. Cortisol and adrenaline are neither good, nor bad – they just perform as nature intended. When the adrenals glands go into ‘overdrive’, increased levels of adrenaline and cortisol cause the body to burn up lean muscle tissue, instead of fat, to create the calories that we need. Not only that, poor adrenal function will affect the functioning of the thyroid gland (amongst many other systems in the body), and this in turn can have far-reaching effects on the metabolic rate of every cell in your body.

Ultimately, chronic fatigue can result when the adrenal glands have burnt themselves out, and fail to produce adequate levels of hormones. This is a serious condition, since the body no longer has the reserves to respond to normal, everyday stressors.

There are many aspects to our daily lives, and stresses can occur, unpredictably, at any point in the day. We can categorise incoming stimuli, broadly, as the factors which impact on us physically, mentally, and emotionally.

So, let’s consider the physical aspect first. Our bodies are designed to respond to stimuli in a favourable way and, as a result of our homeostatic mechanisms, return the body to a state of balance. For example, if someone were to suddenly fire a gun in the same room, you would ‘leap out of your skin’, and your adrenal glands would pump out huge amounts of adrenaline directly into the blood stream. This would result in the classic ‘fight or flight’ response. The adrenaline reaches every organ, and adjusts the blood (oxygen and glucose) supply, redistributing it to where it is needed most. Some vessels dilate and others constrict, the heart rate and blood pressure increase, and the air passages in the lungs dilate. All of these responses allow our physical body either to take flight from, or fight, the threat. Once the threat is over, the adrenal glands stop pumping out adrenaline, and the body returns to normal. This would be an example of stress.

Sometimes the body experiences long-term chronic stress - and this can occur for many reasons. The effect of this can be that the adrenal glands are unable to keep up with the constant demand for adrenaline, and they can become fatigued. Difficulties can then arise as the demand outweighs the body’s ability to produce adrenaline, which, after all, is vital to life.

It is not only physical stimuli that can cause the ‘flight and fight’ response. Sometimes our thoughts and emotions require just the same response of the adrenal glands, because the body perceives danger.

From a broader perspective still, we know that longstanding infections require a great deal of energy from the immune system, as does chronic toxicity (particularly that of heavy metals). The immune system is vital to life, and the body, in its wisdom, knows that it has to ‘pull out all the stops’. But what fuels the immune system? The endocrine system, including the adrenal glands.

So far we have seen how: physical shock; mental and emotional anxiety; longstanding infections, and; chronic toxicity can result in tired adrenal glands. To complicate this further, if heavy metals have accumulated in the brain (particularly the limbic system in the case of emotional stress), the emotional or mental responses to stimuli can become unnecessarily stressful (as a result of ‘faulty processing’), and of course this further depletes energy levels. Add to that, the fact that toxicity of the hypothalamus alone will result in abnormal signalling to the other endocrine organs. And, of course, the adrenal glands themselves may store residues of heavy metals, which will reduce the quality and quantities of hormones manufactured

To add to the burden, most of us dwell in electromagnetic smog 24/7. Electromagnetic fields alone confuse the delicate signalling in the body, and are now recognised to have a debilitating effect on many people. But, in the presence of metals, the combined effects of toxicity and EMFs can be catastrophic. See section on electromagnetic fields.

In summary, in order to deal with stress in the way that Nature intended, we need to:

  • Be free of toxins, particularly heavy-metals.
  • Be free of electromagnetic fields.
  • Adopt a more healthy life/work balance.
  • Involve ourselves in healthy and nurturing relationships.
  • Eat a healthy well-balanced diet, organic wherever possible.  

So, stress is a vastly complicated picture, and one that FCT addresses holistically.

Academic research:

The immune system and the nervous system.

COI Stress 82784341COI Stress 59328619