A Silent Killer

Hey Power Girl,

Have you ever been stressed?  What was it like? Did it make you feel sick?

Well, I know that sometimes being stressed can get the best of you.  So it is very important for you to understand the dangers of stress and how to prevent it or reduce it.

Many people are unaware of the dangers of stress and how it can be a silent killer.  You are probably wondering why I am telling you this, and it’s because I want you to live a long and healthy life, and in order for you to do that I need to educate you.

How can stress kill you?

Cortisol is one of the main stress hormones, which helps move energy to where you need it and away from non-essential functions of your body.  However, with chronic stress exposure problems arise such as: your immune system shuts down, inflammation is inhibited, your white blood cells (which fight infection) are reduced, and as a result your susceptibility to disease increases.  There is even research that suggests that prolonged stress may be involved in the development of cancer!   You should also know that people who are under significant stress have more clogged arteries, which prevents blood from getting to the heart during stress and can eventually even lead to heart attacks!  WOW ! No wonder they call stress the “Silent Killer”.

How can stress be reduced?

Well Power Girl, there is GOOD NEWS because your body also makes another hormone called Oxytocin which REDUCES the stress response.  Oxytocin helps your blood vessels relax and even regenerates your heart from stress-related damage. You are probably wondering how you can get more oxytocin into your body during times of stress.  Well, oxytocin is sometimes thought of as a “cuddle hormone” because this hormone is released during positive interactions and while caring for others.

So basically you can hug-away and laugh-away your stress.  Just think about giving to, loving and serving others and as you take care of those around you, your stress levels will drop dramatically.

Research also shows that physical activity helps to reduce stress. In particular, stretching stimulates your nervous system and fights damaging stress hormones like Cortisol. When your muscles are tight then your blood pressure will increase because of the high muscle tension and inactivity.  Barely moving, like sitting at school or work all day has also been shown to increase stress hormones in the brain. People now say that “sitting is the new smoking” because of how it poorly affects your health.  So it is important to change your workout routines to try other forms of conditioning to increase your heart rate, stretch your muscles and decrease the stress response.

Breathing is also a very important way to prevent stress.  To breathe properly, first sit up tall in a comfortable chair and place one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Second, inhale deeply through your nose and then exhale slowly through your mouth taking twice as long to do so.  As you breathe out try to push your tummy out by concentrating your abdominals muscles and feeling your stomach move out with your hand. Try this for 5 minutes with your eyes closed.  This breathing exercise will slow your heart rate, stopping stress before it negatively affect your health.

So Power Girl, remember when stress feels like it’s getting the better of you, spend some time hanging our with your friends or family, try some deep breathing and do a Power Girl workout to relieve tension and reboot your life!

It works for me!

Your friend and coach,

Jessy Lipke

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