“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.”

In our society stress has become a normal daily function. People are expected to be under stress in jobs, when competing in any kind of sport or athletics and even in our daily activities of trying to keep our homes, families and friendships functioning smoothly. Then we wonder why depression & anxiety is so prominent in our country.

Depression affects 1 in 10 Americans and over 80% of people that have symptoms of clinical depression are not receiving any specific treatment. That being said, the number of people diagnosed with depression increases by 20% each year. So imagine the increase if everyone who had clinical depression were accounted for.

In our daily activities our body uses our parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for stimulation of “rest and digest” or “feed and breed” activities that occur when the body is at rest, especially after eating. This includes things such as sexual arousal, salivation, tears, urination, digestion and excretion. However, anytime we get into fight-or-flight mode (perceived harmful event, attack or threat against you) our sympathetic nervous system kicks in and our adrenal gland releases greater levels of hormones and neurotransmitters. All the below are increased when we are in fight-or-flight mode:

  • Norepinephrine is used to mobilize the brain and body for action.

  • Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, increases blood flow to the muscles, output of the heart, pupil dilation and blood sugar.

  • Estrogen and testosterone are the sex hormones for men and women.

  • Cortisol increases blood sugar to suppress the immune system and aids in metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrates.

  • Dopamine is the “happy” chemical in your brain. However when levels are too high or too low there are side effects and can cause disorders such as paranoia or schizophrenia.

  • Serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract and known to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness. It also regulates the mood, appetite, and sleep.

The problem arises because our bodies were not meant to live in a fight-or-flight state (constantly using our sympathetic nervous system) and raising the levels of the hormones and neurotransmitters. This is why when you are depressed or anxious frequently you can start to experience weight gain, digestive/gut issues, problems sleeping and many other side effects. Therefore finding ways to de-stress and let go of our anxiety is very important. There are many ways to de-stress and the most important part is finding out what works for you!

  • Meditation (even for just 5 mins a day)

  • Listening to music that is calming and relaxing

  • Get a massage

  • Take a hot bath

  • Exercise daily (even if it’s taking a 20 minute walk or cleaning your house)

  • Utilize essential oils (lavender and serenity are great for calming and relaxing)

  • Start your morning with a daily devotional

  • Keep a journal

  • Get plenty of sleep

We all need to work on de-stressing and letting go of things on a daily basis! When the mind and body are calm and our stress and anxiety are down, we are better equipped to make decisions, we have more energy and we can live life abundantly!

Source: http://www.cdc.gov