18 Aug The Surprising Impact of Stress on The Body
Our hectic, over-stimulated modern-day lives have created the perfect breeding ground for keeping our pulses racing and energy flowing. I’m talking about stress. While we need stress to survive, consistently being in that zone really isn’t good for your health.
When stress gets deep enough, it can trigger all kinds of internal alarm systems. Before you know it, there’s an uncontrollable domino effect on your health. You get sick quicker, fatigued all the time, don’t sleep well, and your eating habits end up all over the place.
On a recent episode of the Darin Olien Show, I talked to Dr. Alexander Paziotopoulos, (aka Dr. Pazio). Now, Dr. Pazio isn’t your ordinary physician. He’s the CEO and head practitioner at the Pazio Institute. Both he and his team take a more holistic approach to take care of folks. They focus on optimizing a patient’s health rather than settling for quick fixe. They do this by creating proactive, individualized health plans.
When I spoke with Dr. Pazio, he said the one thing they see time and again is how stress impacts the body. So, here are some surprising stress facts and simple solutions.
How Stress Affects Pelvic Stabilization
What’s your pelvis got to do with stress? Well, pelvic stabilization is more critical to your overall health than you may think.
Firstly, pelvic instability relates to the mismatched way your pelvis connects to the rest of your body. You may have heard people call it the “core,” but trust me; it’s way more involved than that.
Secondly, there are the pelvic floor muscles, from your pubic bone to your tailbone.
“What happens with people with a lot of high stress in their life, is that the tone of those muscles becomes very high,”
Dr. Pazio says.
When you think about it, it kind of makes sense. Say you see a tiger standing in front of you. You’re either going to want to hightail it out of there or stand your ground and fight. “You’re going to constrict your pelvic floor because you can’t go to the bathroom,” he chuckles.
But, should that constant restriction be part of our daily life because of stress, then we can run into a whole heap of health trouble.
“That constriction of the pelvic floor, what it does is pull the tail bone under a little bit, and the anus tightens up, the muscles around your urethra tighten up. And then that sends a signal up the vagus nerve, ‘stop digestion, stop the immune system, stop all unnecessary organs.’”
If we can’t unload this heightened form of stress, the knock-on effects can seep into your breathing patterns, heart rate, and muscles.
Listen To Your Heart
Is your meditation working? Do you find that your deep breathing technique borderline textbook, but you still feel off? Is that yoga session effectively getting rid of your stress? Well, we can actually measure all of that, by using a method called beat-to-beat variability.
Put your finger on your pulse. Can you feel that? As your heart beats, you can probably sense a gentle thud. “If you’re at rest and you’re calm, every beat is off by a couple of milliseconds. That’s good beat-to-beat variability,” Dr. Pazio explains.
If your heart beats like a military drum, I’m sorry to say, you’re probably stressed out.
“If you’re not doing proper meditation, it’s going to be revealed in that.”
Dr. Pazio suggests you can either check-in with your physician or try investing in a Heart Math monitor. “You can get these devices, and you can learn how to do the training so that you can increase your beat-to-beat variability by doing breathing exercises.”
Have a Powerful Spirit
If someone came up to you and said, “That guy has a powerful spirit,” you’d probably have a good idea of the kind of person they are.
“If you tell that person something just happened to one of their loved ones, did they lose it or did they ask you pinpoint questions of where are they, what’s going on? And take action?” Dr. Pazio asks.
“You want to have a powerful spirit because you’re not moved by all these things. You’re solid in what you want to do, and you’re focused.”
You may be thinking, “That’s great if you’re that way inclined. But how can people like me work on my spirit?” Well, Dr. Pazio suggests opting in for something like a plant-based diet. When you take on a responsibility like that, you instill a sense that you’re doing something ethical, something for the environment, and, most importantly, something to better yourself.
“That’s a spiritual exercise just in of itself.”
Have a Mindfulness Practice
Those who practice mindfulness techniques often say they feel less stressed and can think clearer. Mindfulness practices focus your attention on the present moment and give you the space to experience acceptance without judgment.
“Have some practice that you’re going to do that allows you to become very mindful of who you are and what you do.” These practices can be anything from yoga, Qigong, Tai Chi, or even walking meditation.
Our lives are full of stressors. If they’re left unchecked, they can have catastrophic effects on our health. We must care for ourselves, decompress, and refocus our minds towards more productive thoughts and actions.
For more on how we all can all go a little deeper into our own bodies, and optimize our health, click here.