Every day hundreds, if not thousands, of small events and stimuli prompt our nervous system to act. Our brain, the computer and management centre for all of life’s functions, processes and interprets millions of data every second. The threatening messages are processed first and require immediate defence response, including those resulting from stress. Are you aware of how often you put your body to full mobilization and what are the consequences?
Stress in every cell
Alarm. The preschool teacher calls that your child is sick but you have an important meeting with your boss in an hour and your partner is currently away on business. The heart begins to beat faster, thoughts in the head are swirling at an avalanche rate, and our body and every cell are under severe stress. What is happening in your body now?
The alarm reaches the pituitary gland, where substances that stimulate the adrenal glands begin to be released into the blood. This is a sign that the production of adrenaline and noradrenaline should increase immediately. They are emergency hormones, also called stress hormones, which are supposed to force our internal organs to work at maximum speed. At the same time, the stomach secretes more acids to digest food more quickly, which is then broken down by the pancreas and liver into tissue-nourishing compounds. After all, now you will need a lot of energy to escape. The heart begins to pump blood faster so that more oxygen and energy substances – glucose and fatty acids reach the cells. So now your body prepares you for maximum focus, which means you have the chance to get out of a difficult situation.
This is how stress looks from the inside – regardless of whether we are talking about being late, unpaid loan instalment or dismissal. Its intensity may be lesser or greater, but regardless, it provokes exactly the same scenario! Terrifying? If this state of increased readiness lasts a long time or remains a permanent state, the body does not have time to regenerate and increasingly malfunctions.
Save yourselves while you can
See how many processes you run when you are stressed? This is why stress weakens immunity and is the cause of most diseases. It cannot be completely eliminated, but you can minimize or neutralize its unpleasant effects. The brain produces serotonin as an antidote, which, in addition to regulating the central nervous system, also affects the functioning of many other neurotransmitters, as well as the digestive system (90% of serotonin is formed in the intestines!). As a consequence, serotonin regulates such diverse body functions and behaviours as aggression, learning, appetite, sleep, awareness and the pursuit of satisfaction. Fortunately, we can have an impact on the production of serotonin, and its levels are positively affected by exercise, a healthy diet, and exposure to the sun.
If you are looking for ways to compensate for the effects of stress, such as tension or sleep problems, you can help yourself by using a weighted blanket. It’s heavier filling (approx. 10% of the user’s weight), composed of glass microbeads, positively stimulates the nervous system. Under the influence of such a blanket, receptors in the skin send information about our safe location to the brain, and ‘orders’ the ‘fight or flight’ response to be disabled. As a result, the amount of cortisol produced decreases, which then increases serotonin. You can use it at night, at work or in the car, and the effects will be felt after about 7 days.
Another serotonin stimulant is CBD oil, which is becoming an increasingly popular natural remedy for the devastating effects of stress. CBD is a legal and best-studied active cannabis substance with extremely wide health-promoting properties. As it has no psychoactive effects, it can be safely implemented in any type of therapy, including for children. CBD has been proven to stimulate an increase in serotonin levels, so it has a calming action and reduces the negative effects of chronic stress.