Slay the Stress Monster and Have the Happiest Christmas
Christmas is coming and it’s meant to be a time of good cheer and celebration but too often Christmas is stressful. The reasons are many and varied.
The expectations … the expense of gifts and food, the pressure of shopping, and simply trying to get everything done can make Christmas an extremely stressful time.
Christmas is often a source of great stress for many. At least one study suggests that Christmas can literally give you a heart attack. The modern manifestation of Christmas can lead to an increase in stress, rather than the opposite.
Christmas also comes with unique environmental features …
For instance, Christmas (in the northern hemisphere) happens in winter, when the days are shorter and the weather is generally poor. We know that reduced daylight has a negative effect on mood but did you know that mood and well-being are also linked to colour? When you’re somewhere that’s generally dark but punctuated with bright lights and garish colours, this can be the worst option for taxing our brains … sounds like typical Christmas decorations which are everywhere.
There’s a lot of legwork involved in Christmas … traditionally done by the family matriarch, but many of us end up bearing the brunt of all the extra work. All can combine to create a situation where stress is far more common, not less.
Unrealistic expectations can cause a lot of stress. Social media seems to show how great everyone else is at their Christmas efforts, and for most people this gives even more pressure to conform and compete to maintain status in your group or community - because losing status is yet another cause of stress.
Let’s be realistic: everyone has a different way of enjoying the festive season. It’s not a competition … so let’s not worry if we’re overweight, or haven’t cooked the perfect feast, or aren’t invited to everything …
Easier said than done?
Is there a simple switch to stop us feeling sad … or fat … or angry?
The “cortisol switch” can turn you from feeling good to bad in 16 minutes. (Gottfried 2012)
The time taken for cortisol to turn from beneficial (where we feel energized, and elated) to bad (where we feel wired, jittery, and fatigued) has been called, "the cortisol switch".
This change takes just 16 minutes.
But can we rewrite a different cortisol switch so we are in control?
Is there an effective natural solution to slay the stress monster and switch from feeling chronically stressed to feeling calm?
So we’re in control and ready to enjoy the happiest Christmas this year?
Cortisol is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands which are located above the kidneys.
Chronic stress is also called “allostatic load” and can feel different for different people.
Our bodies are highly intelligent and tell us when there is danger, through anxiety, tenseness, discomfort, heart racing, shallow breathing, foggy thinking), & when we can relax (slow breathing, calm thoughts, easy laughter, pleasure in our senses). It’s important to start tuning into the feelings in our bodies to know what it means when something is off.
Research shows chronic stress can subtract 10 years from your lifespan.
Cortisol is the only hormone whose concentration in the body increases as we age. Part of the reason is that younger people metabolize (breakdown) the hormone more rapidly than older people. So if your life is overly stressful for an extended period of time, the result is elevated levels of cortisol which effectively have nowhere to go. Your body fails to return cortisol levels to normal and keep it within homeostatic limits.
In chronically stressed people - which is the majority of people today - the body simply doesn't recover and re-energize after experiencing a stressful event, because it's in a near constant state of alertness or "stress-response mode".
Most people who suffer constant chronic anxiety are reacting to the overwhelming stressors in modern lifestyle, including being bombarded by an average of 5,000 adverts a day, most of which are fear-inducing because that is what forces consumers to consume.
An extreme form of chronic stress is PTSD - “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”, a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event or ongoing trauma. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts.
Excess cortisol is just one of many symptoms which fall under the category of adrenal fatigue resulting from stress. The result is a complete breakdown of the normal stress response and the transformation of a beneficial substance (short term) into a toxin (long term).
Cortisol has long term implications on cellular metabolism.
Our chromosomes contain our DNA - the blueprint of who we are.
Chromosomes are located in the nucleus of every cell in our body (aside from red blood cells).
Within our chromosomes lies a structure called a telomere.
Telomeres have protective and stabilizing functions.
A telomere is like the plastic cap at the end of a shoelace which keeps the shoelace from unraveling.
With each cell division, the length of the telomere is reduced, so as we age the telomeres on all of our chromosomes progressively shorten. Eventually, when telomere length is greatly reduced, a condition occurs called cell senescence when the cell can no longer divide.
Research over the last decade shows how "at the cellular level, stress may promote earlier onset of age-related disease", (Epal et al. 2004).
This research suggests that the stress response has a detrimental effect on cell metabolism, and in particular cell division (mitosis).
The stress response (cortisol) affects telomere length and cell longevity.
When the telomere length is zero, cell apoptosis (self-suicide) occurs.
Therefore, telomere length is one of the determining factors of cell longevity and senescence.
Reduced telomere length and high death rates in older people go hand in hand.
Cortisol has a destructive effect on the enzyme telomerase which "relengthens the telomeres so that they get the same length as before embarking on cell division" (Bojesen et al 2013).
The cell's environment directly regulates both the activity of telomerase and telomere length with profound consequences such that chronic stress is associated with "telomeres shorter on average by the equivalent of at least one decade of additional aging" (Epal et al 2004), as compared with less stressed persons.
The significant body of research documents the detrimental effect of ether stress (or the associated release of cortisol during stress) on telomere shortening (Daubenmier et al. 2012; Tomiyama et al 2012; Parks et al 2009).
The implication is that elevated and persistent cortisol levels accelerate cell aging.
This research leads to increased understanding of cancers, the appropriate treatment of those cancers, and the genetic links between telomere length and the subsequent development of cancer. (Bojesen et al 2013).
(As always, no health claims made or implied. Do your own research. Understand the science. Take action. Use formulas with genuine ingredients at the right dose.)
In the 1920s, American physiologist Walter Cannon was the first to describe the "fight or flight" response wherein stress hormones prepare our bodies for battle, or give sufficient energy and speed for us to escape danger (Cannon 1915).
Hans Selye (1907-1982), however, is considered to be the father of stress research, and was one of the earliest scientists who published numerous manuscripts on stress, the hormone cortisol, and their impact on health and disease in the early decades of the 20th century.
Selye authored the book Stress without Distress, where he called stress "the spice of life" (Selye 1974). Selye recognized stress had positive values when integrated properly into life, but also recognized that an improper reaction to stress in life was a major cause of disease, and that cortisol moderated these effects (Selye 1954).
Cortisol and noradrenaline initiate a stress response, known as "the fight or flight response". A massive burst of energy and feelings of alertness follow the release of cortisol into the bloodstream. This physiologic event is fueled by dramatic increases in respiration and increased levels of glucose in the blood stream, which allows the muscles to work harder, faster and for a longer periods of time. This response has one purpose: to get you out of harm's way. Classic examples could be avoiding an approaching vehicle or escaping from predators.
For most of us the word stress has intrinsically negative connotations. The stress response enables an individual to deal with the stressor (stress causing event), whatever it may be.
Stress is an "experience accompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological, cognitive, and behavioral changes that are directed either toward altering the stressful event or accommodating to its effects" (Taylor 2010).
Stress can be positive or negative depending on individual context.
Cortisol is beneficial only while the dangerous stressing event is present: it makes you alert in the workplace, it aids your concentration and overall sharpens your mental and physical faculties. The problem is that it has been known for decades that elevated and prolonged cortisol levels present significant health risks.
Since Selye's research began in the mid-thirties, scientific evidence has increasingly shown that chronic stress results in long term chemical changes in the body which manifest themselves in conditions such as heart and arterial disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, immunosuppression, obesity and increased body mass index (BMI), neuron damage, insomnia, depression, increased risk of suicide, osteoporosis, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The latter two may be caused by cortisol-associated damage to the hippocampus (the area of the brain associated with memory processing and organization).
In fact, researchers have found that prolonged elevations of cortisol literally cause brain shrinkage (reduced hippocampal volume) and memory deficits compared to individuals with normal cortisol levels (Lupien 1998).
This does not suggest that the stress response is in itself dangerous or life threatening.
As stated above, the stress response is essential to our survival.
For humans the very real danger is when constant stress is unavoidable and each stressing event piles on top of the same response: cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands.
The stressor and subsequent release of cortisol can be unrelenting, and may last for extended periods of time.
Accumulated cycles of cortisol release can lead to adrenal exhaustion from excess depletion of the adrenal hormones during long-term stress, or alternately to cortisol resistance where cortisol levels are dangerously physiologically high in the bloodstream, but at low levels within the cell.
Cortisol resistance may lead to a curious combination of both fatigue and agitation (Cohen et al 2012, and Menke et al 2012).
Some examples of long-term stressors could be
- a messy divorce
- an ongoing conflict in the workplace
- even the stress of the daily rush hour each morning and afternoon
- a never ending to-do list
- a full inbox
- too many text messages
- social media alerts
- phone calls.
- financial pressures caused by inflation
- the stress of renting … parenting … political polarisation … aging relatives … bullying … worries about loved ones
The list is endless, and we all have different triggers.
It is not always the stressor, but how we as individuals react to that stressor.
Each person's reaction to the same stressor can be remarkably different. For this reason alone, "stress has long been suspected in the etiology [study of causation] of many diseases, and can be immunosuppressive and hence may be detrimental to health" (Dhaber and Mckewen 1999).
The basic inference is that after the stressing event has passed, the body needs time to breakdown the stress hormones circulating in our blood stream into harmless substances. If the body does not have the metabolic efficiency or the time to do this effectively, cortisol becomes a toxin.
The time taken for cortisol to turn from beneficial (where we feel energized, and elated) to bad (where we feel wired, jittery, and fatigued) has been called, "the cortisol switch" and has been measured at approximately 16 minutes. (Gottfried 2012)
Here’s a good example of how cortisol overload works … think of the action of cortisol in the blood stream as like the "oxygen debt" when you get out of breath:
Aerobic respiration enables the body to function at its peak; overstepping this peak initiates anaerobic (oxygen-free) respiration in the muscles. The result of this anaerobic respiration is a build-up of lactic acid: we recognize this by feeling an increased heaviness and tiredness in the muscles, accompanied by progressively more rapid and deeper breathing. There comes a point where you have to stop the activity and pay back the "oxygen debt" by inhaling large amounts of oxygen, and allowing the lactic acid to be transported by the circulatory system to the liver where it is oxidized to carbon dioxide and water.
Similarly, we must be removed from stressing events, or learn adequate coping mechanisms to react to the stressing events in a more healthy fashion in order to allow cortisol levels to return to normal. If this is not accomplished, cortisol levels remain elevated and can quickly become deadly.
If it is impossible to avoid the stressing events, can we change the impact of elevated cortisol levels or the stress response pathways?
In essence we are asking if it is possible to inhibit the production of cortisol.
Research and clinical trials since the mid-nineties have shown that a substance derived from the whites of fertilized semi-incubated chicken eggs called Young Tissue Extract, or YTE®, may play a crucial role in reducing cortisol levels and play a role in stress management.
It is important to clarify that YTE® does not inhibit normal stress response but, "restores the ability of chronically stressed subjects to adapt to acute stress" (Schult et al 2009).
YTE® is not a prescription drug, but is a nutritional supplement, so cannot make any claims for the prevention, mitigation, treatment, or cure of any disease.
The freeze-dried ingredient contains a combination of essential amino acids, peptides and growth factors which have been shown to elevate levels of a substance called 17-ketosteroid. This is a critically important class of biological molecule with many functions, but one result of ingestion is that it balances the rate of the body's production of cortisol.
YTE® has been shown to inhibit the stress response by elevating the body's production of serotonin, which promotes feelings of wellbeing and relaxation (Solberg 2011).
Effectively, our stress hormone levels drop because we lose our feelings of anxiety, worry, insecurity and related negative emotions. We all know the short term consequences of stress include insomnia, reduced appetite, feeling overwhelmed or powerless and sometimes increased alcohol intake or food binging to cope with these feelings.
The long-term consequences can be severely debilitating, or even life threatening.
It is important to note that chronic stress should be avoided at all costs, although often this is just not possible and it may be unrealistic to say, "just remove the stressing event".
For people enduring an extended stressful period, genuine YTE® at clinical therapeutic dose may be an answer because people who are chronically stressed "profit both psychologically and physiologically from YTE®" (Schult et al 2009).
The YTE® in the AminoBoosters, TeloMind and AminoSerene unique formulas is proven to balance cortisol.
While it is beneficial to adopt proper diet, exercise, stress reduction and relaxation techniques, and the moderation of alcohol (Mendelson et al 1966; Thayer et al 2006; Stalder et al 2010) and coffee intake (Bennett et al 2013) - not only can that be difficult but often it is not enough.
Health Evolution YTE® supplements provide the proven natural solution to managing chronic stress and cortisol overload.
Since 2014, Health Evolution’s Evolve Inside™ formulas have been providing energy instead of fatigue, deep sleep instead of anxiety, success instead of stress, immunity instead of imbalance, enabling healing instead of harm.
The company’s mission is to enable you to live your best life.
Order at www.healthevolutionproject.com.
FDA Disclaimer: Not intended to diagnose, mitigate, treat or cure any disease.
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- The “Merry Christmas Coronary” and “Happy New Year Heart Attack” Phenomenon https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.CIR.0000151786.03797.18
- The importance of daylight https://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2015/dec/22/winter-solstice-google-doodle-daylight-health-psychology-sad
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