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March 25, 2024

Tired and Wired: Is Your Body Hooked On Stress?

Post By:
Susan Winograd
In-House Contributor
Pelvic Health Physical Therapist
LEAD Wellness
Guest Contributor:

So many of us are living our lives in a chronic state of stress from work, relationships, and our never-ending to-do lists. We wake up feeling foggy, unmotivated, and start to see irritating symptoms creep in like bloating, stubborn belly fat, decreased libido, even depression and anxiety. We’re tired and wired and we can’t seem to get off the hamster wheel!

But what is truly happening in our body?

Let’s start with the simple fact that our body naturally produces a hormone called cortisol from our adrenal glands to help manage everyday stress and inflammation. 

In a perfect world, we would experience a lifestyle stressor, complete the stress cycle, and return to baseline and homeostasis, as the body naturally intended. However, what we’re seeing more and more nowadays, is that so many of us actually remain in a chronic state of stress, both physical, emotional, and chemical. It’s as if we are living our lives with our foot on the “gas pedal” at ALL times without ever getting back to neutral.

Sounds exhausting, right???

Extended periods in a high stress state causes our body to produce an excessive amount of cortisol, leading to an imbalance in this hormone. This has a major impact on our adrenal glands, which is coined as the major producer of hormones that help to regulate our metabolism, immune function, blood pressure, and response to stress.

To make matters more complicated, a cortisol imbalance often leads to a decreased immune response, which can be the beginning of Leaky Gut Syndrome and also often the first step in developing an autoimmune issue! 

Furthermore, we begin to lose efficiency in the absorption of nutrients and people may begin to complain of constant and uncomfortable bloating, distention  and belly upset.

As if this wasn't enough, this now inflammatory rich environment in the gut can inhibit the release  and absorption of important chemicals like GABA, serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin. These are our bodies' natural depression fighting neurotransmitters. THIS is why so many people with prolonged stress, hormone imbalance, and persistent inflammation ALSO experience anxiety and depression! 

Remember , your body will do whatever it needs to do to get you through the day! It’s #1 concern is survival !! 

Once we’ve been hanging out in this state for long enough, the body naturally develops a compensation by recruiting the thyroid and/or  our primary sex hormones  to help keep us going. To our own dismay we may then be faced with a hormonal imbalance and insulin resistance !  This may be why so many people are on hormone replacement therapy YET still don't feel relief- or worse, start experiencing symptoms of thyroid imbalance. 

As if all this is not enough….

Have you ever felt so stressed that you begin to feel like you're losing your mind? You become scatterbrained and forgetful. You walk into a room for something but cannot remember why. Or words that should be easily accessible in your mind are now getting lost?

You are not going crazy! This is all related and a very REAL symptom of chronic stress. 

When you have been exposed to stress for a prolonged time the area in our brain that is responsible for memory (the hippocampus) becomes affected and thus so does our memory and certain cognitive functions.

By now you are probably wondering how to finally STOP this dysfunctional cycle! 

The good news is that our bodies are intelligent, resilient, and extremely powerful, especially when given the proper support.  If you are struggling with chronic stress and experiencing some or all of these symptoms, there is something you can do about it.

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The first step in repairing our bodies from the impacts of chronic stress is to tackle the inflammatory rich state of our gut so that we can finally begin to experience comfortable digestion, absorb nutrients properly, and support the natural release and absorption of GABA, serotonin, dopamine, melatonin, and other important chemicals within our body.

How do we reverse inflammation? Through detox.

Fortunately, our bodies have a natural detoxification system to help us filter the garbage within our bodies causing so much inflammation and imbalance. The liver is our major detox organ and it has our back.  But if our liver is not operating as it should, our body will remain in a persistent, inflammatory state and we will not be able to achieve hormonal balance. The first step in repairing our bodies from chronic stress is to focus on cleaning out the liver of chemicals and toxins and restoring it to an optimal state. 

Even people that are in peak health NEED to detoxify their liver if they struggle with chronic stress!

Once the liver is functioning properly, you can start to heal and recover through incorporating natural, holistic, and integrative lifestyle and nutrition changes to help you live and feel your very best. These changes can include diet modifications, supplements, consistent time outdoors in nature, meditation, walking, yoga, new sleep habits, new eating habits, and so much more. Incorporating changes that are customized for your lifestyle and body can help ensure you heal from chronic stress and prevent it from happening in the future.

As you can now see, our body is divinely interconnected. Oftentimes the frustrating and stubborn symptoms we experience are due to multisystem issues stemming from a perpetual cycle of chronic stress, hormone imbalance and a persistent state of inflammation.

But our body also has brilliant healing systems.

In order to achieve true symptom relief, we must look at the body from a holistic and integrative lens, addressing healing from all angles. Only then can we tap into our body’s natural healing superpowers.  Then, we can not only dream of the life we want, but actually start living the life we dream of!