When we have to adapt, we do.
Remember the times when you have slammed at work and you NEED a holiday. That holiday is now days or weeks away and you are hanging in there. Day one of your holiday you head off with the family and… day one, you catch a cold. You say to yourself… WHY ME?
Well, “why me” and why is this relevant to our health in this year of 2023.
In 1926, Dr Seyle developed his theory on how people adapt to stress, it’s called the Triad of Chronic Stress and it consists of a series of events known as the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS).
Dr. Hans Selye proved that our daily lives are influenced by two different types of stress:
Pleasant stress, which contributes to wellness and unpleasant stress, which contributes to disease and sickness.
When under stress of either kind our adrenal glands run through a process to help us cope with the stress.
Stage 1 – The alarm reaction. The human body first responds to stress by increasing the amount of adrenal activity to cope with what is happening. We experience this as an increased heart rate and energised feelings.
Stage 2 – The resistance stage. If the stress continues, anywhere from days to weeks depending on the level of stress and the individual’s response, the adrenal glands adapt by increasing their function and size, however if extreme stress is maintained for a prolonged period the adrenals become tired, which leads to under-functioning. If the stress is too extreme or continues for too long, the adrenals lose their ability to recover.
Stage 3 – Exhaustion stage. The exhaustion stage is where you have lost the ability to adapt to life’s stresses. Your adrenal function is limited and your body does not have the ability to resist or handle ongoing stress. Your adrenal bank account is empty and you are seriously in debt, facing daily challenges to your health.
Think about the years 2020 and 2021, the world went into lockdown with the pandemic and we went into survival mode. The kicker is that, living in alarm or survival mode went on in most people for more than 2 years. Physically, emotionally and mentally challenged on all fronts.
2022 came along and it was still a great unknown. Some things started opening up, some still with restrictions of some kind and a time of uncertainty was still upon us.
2023 comes along and the powers to be say, all good. It’s over, just get back on with life again. Our bodies then got that moment to come down out of alarm mode, and start to fall into a heap. Whether physically, emotionally or mentally, our health has been taxed big time.
The sad thing is that many of us in the natural health field saw it coming. In more than 3 decades in the natural health industry, I have never seen the immense number or range of stress related health issues that I am seeing now.
The adrenal glands can adapt to a point and then they say… no more. I have nothing left to give.
The bottom line is that is what is happening now.
How long can your body stay in fight or flight? For a fight or flight response, the “recovery time” for the body to assume normal body functions is variable and can last for 20 to 60 minutes following the perceived “stress”.
The majority of the population stayed in flight or flight for two years. Some tried to handle it with drinking too much, smoking, over or under eating, turning out in front of the computer or tv, filing up the day to avoid thinking or feeling about what was happening, taking their frustration and stress out on overs, online shopping. The response was varied and the result is the same.
We have a population right now still in overwhelm and their body is trying to catch up to them. They are not sleeping, their moods are all over the place, they are dealing with weight issues and the health issues that come with that. Digestive system issues, depression, anxiety, brain fog and fatigue are real, they are not coping and many have lost hope. The body can work like a miracle and heal, even Hipprocates indicated that.
Hippocrates stated that healing is not the treatment accomplished by a physician but is due to the vis medicatrix naturae (self-healing) within a human body (Mott, 1923; Logan & Selhub, 2012). Self-healing refers to the dynamic equilibrium within the body and extends into the realm of mental health (Thomson, 1914). In my 20’s I took my body right down the GAS rabbit hole. I was burned out and conventional medicine did not have answers that I was ok with. After much searching I sought the help of a naturopath and turned my health around. When the world changed in 2020, yes initially was like WTF, my work as a professional speaker came to a standstill over night, as did my income at the time, with no ability to work like so many others. I chose to go to work on me so that I could not just adapt but also flourish at this time.
So, what are some of the things that I worked with to support me? Here are some healthy natural ways to help support your body and reverse GAS.
- Move your body like walking
- Get out into nature
- Get a buddy and talk it out
- Take long warm baths with magnesium salts
- Journal, get it out of your mind instead of going down the rabbit hole. Then you can take action to deal with it.
- Do mindful movement like Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi
- Get some body work like massage
- Play with animals
- Get into the garden
- Laugh, watch comedies while eating meals
- Listen to music
- Check out adaptogen herbs – adaptogens are a class of herbs that a naturopath prescribes to help your body adapt to stress. They work in synergy not in isolation. Get good advice before you just buy a singular herb. It’s time for deep self-care.
It’s time to learn from this and live from a place of prevention and handle stress differently in the future.