|British man on Tuesday at 11:45|
According to a survey done in Great Britain, Tuesday at 11:45 is the most stressful time of the week. Particularly if you coast through Monday and allow your work to build up. I had a patient today who's an attorney. She said stress is a major factor in her life all the time - even though she's reduced her workload from 80 hours a week to 65.
How's your stress level?
It's something we face, at some level and in some way, every day. It affects us in multiple ways.
Some are obvious, some not so obvious and some are probably not even known yet.
You're probably familiar with what goes on mentally when you are stressed. Worry, anxiety, feelings of impending doom, anger, frustration, fear, and so on. Do you know what goes on physically?
www.cortisol.com). But when it is chronically high, you can have suppression of thyroid function, cognitive impairment, increased blood pressure, decreased bone density, and blood sugar imbalances. High levels of cortisol can also lower your immunity and inflammatory responses, as well as slow down the wound healing process. Chronic stress leads to a high concentration of cortisol in your body. Chronic high concentrations of cortisol is toxic to brain cells and can cause short-term memory loss. A lifetime of high cortisol levels may be a primary contributor to Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia and is also a primary cause of osteoporosis.
When I have patients at work tell me they are stressed, I usually give them a copy of an article from the newspaper by Dr. Bryant Stamford, the medical columnist. My disclaimer is that it may not directly apply to their circumstances, but it's worth checking out. In the article, Stamford describes some of the destructive properties of stress and he talks about the aspect of stress that comes from fear of the future. He states that the past and future don't exist, except in our minds. Yet we spend most of our time there, worrying about things that have already happened or that probably won't occur. He says it's the ultimate stress-promoting Catch-22 - conjuring up fears and threats we can't do anything about. One of my favorite pastors, D. James Kennedy, said that worry is like paying interest on a debt you will likely never owe.
Most of what we worry about doesn't even come to pass, yet we suffer anyway. This is important to understand for our present peace.
I can look at some circumstances in my life right now, extrapolate them out based on current trends and decide that all is in fact lost and will turn out horribly. Yet my own life is proof of the opposite. Stamford says we need to come fully to the present and practice the critical life skill of living 'here and now'.
Back to cortisol.
|(Not a self-portrait)|
This is one of the many reasons exercise is good for us. It burns off the elevated 'free floating' fat molecules produced by stress AND increases the release of the happy hormones - endorphins - making you feel better which in turn also lowers stress. Of course, a stronger heart, lower blood pressure, and lower weight are associated as well. I implied at the beginning that all the negatives associated with stress haven't been fully understood yet, and I also believe that all the benefits of exercise cannot be overstated. I've read that lifting weights strengthens your bones. I didn't understand how that could occur, but here's a connection. Exercise = lower cortisol = stronger bones. And this is just one example.
In some of my favorite passages from the bible, Jesus uses the phrase 'do not worry' 3 times in Matthew 6:25-34 and it's repeated in Luke 12:11-29. Read over those passages again. God doesn't want us to stress. It's not good for us and it's not necessary. Yes, we'll have trials and difficult times that He can use to grow us, but if we rest in the assurance that He's going through them with us, that He works out everything for our best, and that we can fully trust Him because He cares for us and has our eternal best interests as an endpoint we can quit diminishing our daily level of joy and quit slowly killing ourselves.
Don't run after the things the world runs after - money, fame, power and pleasure. That's a cortisol factory waiting to happen. Seek after the things of God. He knows what you need and what's best for you. Jesus asks an interesting question in the above passages, 'if you can't even do the small task of adding a single hour to your life, why do you worry about all the rest?'.
Why Trifecta? Because this is a win on all 3 of the main topics this blog is supposed to be about.