What Stress Is Doing To You
Chronic Stress (and exposure to glucocorticoids) can kill some of your brain cells. A study conducted by Dr. Robert Sapolsky of Stanford University in the 1980's found that chronic stress caused damage to the hippocampus (the part of your brain that drive learning and memory). It changes brain circuits and as a result, acute stress can make you 'stupid' in the short term!
Stress restricts and clogs arteries reducing blood flow to heart. High levels of stress today will effect you today and your health for years to come.
Your Immune System
Stress can cause havoc on your immune system. A research paper (Segerstrom & Miller) from 2006 studied 300 empirical articles and concluded that our immune system is detrimentally affected by chronic stress.
"The results of this meta-analysis support this assertion in one sense: Stressors with the temporal parameters of the fight-or-flight situations faced by humans’ evolutionary ancestors elicited potentially beneficial changes in the immune system. The more a stressor deviated from those parameters by becoming more chronic, however, the more components of the immune system were affected in a potentially detrimental way." Segerstrom & Miller (2006)
Your Body Weight
The Whitehall Study found a link between stress and weight gain in the abdominal area. Weight gain in the 'midsection' is the worst type of fat your body can carry. This is dangerous fat as it produces different chemicals and hormones that harm your body.
Your Aging Process
We have 46 chromosomes that are each capped off with a telomere which protect the ends of our chromosomes from fraying. Stress can change these genetic structures.
Our telomeres naturally shorten as we age, but scientists now know that the stress hormones speed up the decaying process. Dr. Elissa Epel did a study of mothers who were taking care of disabled children and thought to be understandably under chronic stress. The study looked at the telomeres of these women and for that for every year of chronic stress, they aged roughly six years.
Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, a thought leader in telomere research, co-discovered an enzyme called telomerase can repair damaged telomeres. This enzyme is stimulated by compassion and caring for others.
Developing COMPASSION & MINDFULNESS could help heal the damaging effects of stress and possibly help us live longer, healthier lives.
- Jay Coulter
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