Is Chronic Stress Affecting Your Health?
Everyone experiences stress at one time or another, but chronic high stress, and how that stress is perceived, can be detrimental to your physical and mental health. It can contribute to feelings of anxiety and overwhelming fear. It can also weaken your immune system and overall health, leaving you susceptible to colds, virus and bacterial infection and flu, an increase in aches and pains, as well as many serious illnesses.
Chronic stress silently deteriorates many aspects of your health, including hormone imbalances and modifications to the structure and function of your brain. These changes make it more challenging to cope with daily stress, decrease concentration and memory, and eventually will lead to a mental or brain fog.
Amazingly, the effects of stress often go unnoticed until the accumulation manifests as mental or physical exhaustion or burnout. Due to the overall compromised health and chronic disease stress causes, it has often been referred to as “The Silent Killer.”
Here are examples of symptoms and conditions that can result from chronic stress:
- Decreased concentration
- Mental or brain fog
- Decreased memory capacity
- Muscle or back pain
- Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Headaches or migraines
- Hormonal and thyroid imbalances
- Weight gain
- Addiction (smoking, alcohol or drug abuse)
- GI conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome
- Frequent infections (such as cold or flu)
- Hair loss
- Accelerated aging
Initiation of the stress response begins within the brain and activates the release of a series of hormones. The stress response system includes the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).
The HPA axis and the SNS regulate your body’s fight-or-flight response, which is important for preparing the body to quickly respond to immediate danger, such as avoiding a car accident. The result of HPA and SNS activation is a heightened sense of awareness, an accelerated heart rate, and rapid breathing.
Cortisol is the primary hormone involved in regulating the stress response. The adrenal glands secrete cortisol, along with the fight-or-flight hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline). These hormones travel through the bloodstream preparing the body for a quick response to potential danger.
In addition to heightened awareness, you will experience an increase in blood sugar and blood pressure, as well as decreased immune defense, decreased digestion, and a breakdown in muscle. Once the stressor is removed, this state of “sympathetic nervous system dominance” will subside and your body will return to a normal relaxed state.
It is natural for the body to respond to occasional “acute” activation of the HPA axis and sympathetic nervous system. However, chronic stress resulting from living a stressful life is not what the body was built to withstand. If the stressor(s) are not removed, or ongoing stress accumulates, the hormones will cause damage to the body by depleting the body’s resources and shifting into a state of catabolism, or breakdown.
The 4 Key Stressors
When most people think of stress, they usually limit their definition to mental and emotional stressors. Changing jobs or losing a loved one, for example, can send your stress (and cortisol) levels soaring.
However, events like blood sugar imbalances, inadequate sleep, and inflammation, are also potent stimulators of cortisol production within the HPA axis. The result is an activation of the stress response system.
One of the most common and easiest stressors to control is imbalanced blood sugar.
Skipping breakfast after fasting overnight, can cause some people’s blood sugar levels to drop. Or, eating high a carbohydrate breakfast, can cause excessive hunger and cravings for many throughout the day. The type and timing of breakfast matters and is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Your body attempts to restore balance by increasing cortisol and insulin levels depending on your blood sugar response, which will attempt to restore blood sugar to normal. If imbalances happen frequently, blood sugar and adrenal problems can result.
If blood sugar remains an issue, coupled with inflammation in the body, poor sleep patterns, and then topped with mental and emotional stress, you have created a recipe for disaster. It is critical to identify the major stressors in your life so you may develop a plan to overcome stress before it becomes a pathway to chronic disease.
Discover Which Of The 4 Key Stressors is Affecting Your Health!
The Midlife Women's Health Reset Program is a nutrition and lifestyle program designed to help bring the mind and body back into balance while eliminating the unhealthy effects of stress.
Each person’s response to stress is unique and complex. Our programs are designed to be flexible as they help support each component of the stress response, allowing you to find the perfect balance that restores your vitality and optimal health.
Throughout our programs, you will better understand how stress affects your health on a daily basis – including why your body responds or fails to respond, to the stressful events in your life.
Starting with the “Life Event Stress Inventory,” you will discover the life events that may be the most stressful. Additionally, the program outlines recommendations for the four major factors that trigger a stress response in the body: mental and emotional stress, blood sugar imbalances, insomnia, and inflammation.
Once you understand these basic principles, you will have the tools to control your stress response, rather than be controlled by the events and circumstances around you.
Discover Which Of The 4-Key Stressors is Affecting Your Health!
I am recovering from debilitating fatigue, mood swings, and inflammation...
Dr. Ray is a knowledgeable professional who has helped me recover from adrenal fatigue. I didn’t know where to turn for help, but with her skillful guidance I have started to recover and my symptoms have greatly improved. I am recovering from debilitating fatigue, mood swings, and inflammation. She has so much helpful info to share and is a very attentive physician! --Sara F. Pleasant Hill, CA
Hi Dr. Ray, I am on week 4 and I am feeling great!
My energy is back and my ability to concentrate has improved as well; I am also sleeping longer hours. I am no longer struggling with anxiety and moodiness. My appetite is under control, and I no longer have to take the prescription medication I had been taking to control my carbs and sugar cravings. I am also learning a lot of new health information about foods that are healthy and what is not. And, I am just getting started, this is great! Thank you! --G.F., East Bay, CA
Working with Dr. Ray has removed the anxiety of guess work from my process with my health and is reversing my Hashimoto's.
I feel better than I have in years. My mind is clear. I was surprised to realize as I'm learning a new language that my memorization and cognition seems to be better than when I was in college many years ago. I have more energy and my hormones have balanced in a remarkable way. My thyroid is finally doing well, and my Hashimoto's is reversing. I'd thought I was solidly in menopause, but I simply didn't know how much stress I was under and working with Dr. Ray has changed my relationship to stress and opened my life to more possibility and joy in general. I'm happier, healthier and extremely grateful. --Mary G., Oakland, CA
I am learning about taking care of my health. I am really grateful that I found Dr. Ray, and have been able to save my thyroid!
I was having symptoms of high stress and anxiety, heart palpitations, shaky hands, sweating, headaches, sleep disturbance, sugar cravings, plantar fasciitis, muscle pain, low back pain and was having trouble exercising/jogging…and other symptoms.
Within a few months, I have been able to sleep well through the night, stop the worrisome and annoying symptoms, and even doing a 5K! And, I have not had to even use medication! We have been getting to the root cause of my gut issues that were contributing to the problem and using natural means to support mind and my body to heal itself. And I am learning more about taking care of my health. I am really grateful that I found Dr. Ray and have been able to save my thyroid! --Rebecca K., East Bay, CA
...I no longer am hungry throughout the day, no longer struggling with anxiety, and I have had a breakthrough in my weight loss!
"I’ve been running around all day and getting myself together to go to class. Before the regimen started I would have been exhausted, sad and anxious. I have energy even though I haven’t had enough food to eat today. I no longer am hungry throughout the day, so I need to eat less.
I feel encouraged and appreciate the work I’ve done with Dr. Ray, because for one thing, I feel better and can see the results. I am even more self-aware, am no longer having the same old struggles with anxiety, and have developed the discipline to increase my walking every day, which is a big deal for me! It is a part of my meditation. And, I have had a breakthrough in my weight loss! I feel so encouraged. Thank you, Dr. Valencia Ray.” --Barbara P. Chicago, IL
To get started, take our stress assessment that will help identify which of the 4 key stressors rule your life!
If you’re tired of shuffling from doctor to doctor without ever getting to the root of your chronic health issues, and if you want to optimize your health holistically through sound lifestyle modifications, advanced lab testing, and mind-body techniques without unnecessary medications, then our program may just be what you’ve been looking for all along. Just know that it takes a serious commitment to make the lifestyle changes necessary to transform your health once and for all.
As a prospective patient, you may wonder about additional costs not included in our program fee. We know that you’ve likely been to other providers before that may have already run lab tests. That’s why during our comprehensive intake consultation, we will review any existing lab results – so that we can determine if additional, more advanced lab testing is needed to confirm a diagnosis. In terms of supplements, we may recommend certain pharmaceutical-grade supplements for a limited time to support your body’s innate healing process. But long-term, we believe that supplements can’t make up for a poor lifestyle – so our intent is to get you off supplements and unneeded prescription meds as soon as possible.
For the 15-Min Free Stress Assessment we will review your responses and answer questions. If instead you are scheduling a 30-minute Medical Discovery Call (for CA or IL states only), we’ll determine whether partnering with our team is the best next step for you. We’ll go over any questions you may have about our approach, and how it differs from what you’ve tried before – so you feel comfortable about the journey ahead.
Ahead of the initial paid appointment, you will complete our extensive background history forms so that we can properly review your history and lab results ahead of your appointment. During the appointment, we will together review your completed intake form, medical history, current, and past lab tests – as well as any medications taken, so that we can arrive at a baseline assessment of your overall health and nutritional status. If needed, we may decide on more advanced lab tests to confirm (or rule out) a specific diagnosis, so we can create a personalized treatment protocol.
Our team strives to provide you with the most effective and medically advanced techniques available. We are here for you… to help you finally reach your desired health goals. We have 1-1 personalized and group programs available.
When we meet, we’ll assess whether any of our programs are right for you… and answer any questions you may have. Simply pick a time and date that works best for you!
To get started, simply take the FREE stress assessment to discover which of the 4-Key Stressors affects you!
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