Chronic stress is killing you! (And how EFT can change the whole story)

Published on:
Wednesday April 4, 2012
by Nick Ortner

Why not all stress (and stress relief) is created equal.

Did you know that some stress is actually good for you? In the right amounts, stress can improve brain function, make you more creative, help you get fit, lower your risk of breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, and lots more.

It’s chronic stress—the “stress overload” you feel day in, day out—that’s silently but systematically sabotaging your health and well-being.

Here’s the thing, though. You’re smart. You exercise, get your 7 hours, do deep breathing, yoga, meditation. You’ve even logged hours on the couch (the therapist’s couch!) , trying to get to the “root” of your stress.

Chronic StressBut still, you feel its effects. Even worse, stress-related disease shows up everywhere you look.

So what gives?

The Answer: Like stress, not all stress relief is created equal.

Stress isn’t just in your head. Stress is also physical. (There’s load of scientific research proving this, by the way.)

Until stress is fully released, it stays lodged in your body, in your cells, running rampant, putting your health at risk.

Still not sure? The health-damaging effects of chronic stress are scientific fact.

Here’s how stress damages your health (and your life, relationships, waistline, and more) in 13 sad steps:

1. You think about something stressful—work, money, relationships, family, whatever’s bothering you.

2. Your amygdala (in your mid-brain) senses danger.

3. Your amygdala helps to initiate your body’s fight-or-flight response to stress.

4. In “fight or flight”, your body releases adrenaline and the “stress hormone” cortisol, diverts blood away from your digestive tract, leaving you less able to digest food and absorb nutrients AND more likely to gain weight.

5. In this physiological “crisis mode,” you’re more vulnerable to pain—from chronic illness, arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, stomach upset, and more.

6. In this state of heightened physiological “alert”, your brain’s creative center is deemed “non-essential” and shuts down. Down goes your problem solving, your creative skills, your intuition.

7. You feel increasingly irritable, isolated and impatient. Your relationships suffer.

8. Stress affects your sleep. Your metabolism slows.

9. Your body secretes even more cortisol, wreaking more havoc on your digestion (and waist line), increasing your blood pressure, lowering your immune response.

10. After releasing too much cortisol for too long, your body goes into “adrenal fatigue.” You feel depleted, exhausted, and depressed.

11. You no longer have the energy to adhere to your exercise routine, your healthy eating, meditation, yoga. Migraines, insomnia, stress-related hair loss, chronic pain, and any number of other issues become regular parts of your life.

12. Battling low energy, you can hardly focus at work, and elsewhere. Your relationships suffer.

13. Your depression deepens. You (and your body) are STRESSED OUT.

Typical “Quick-Fix” Stress Relievers

Alcohol
Food
Television
Shopping

You feel better, but only until the next morning or credit card statement.

What about aerobic exercise, yoga/meditation, and “talk” therapy?

Relieving Chronis Stress40% of the population exercises for 30 minutes each on 1 – 4 days per week

NO debate here. Exercise is crucial for a healthy lifestyle. Physical activity promotes the release of endorphins, known as the “feel good” neurotransmitters; makes you “smarter” and more creative by increasing blood flow (and oxygen) to your brain; and acts as “meditation in motion”, providing mental and physical stress relief.

The reality: However critical, it’s hours, even days, after that stressful meeting with the boss, or that fight with your spouse, before you can seek out the solace of your running shoes. (If you have that healthy habit..)

38% of Americans use “complementary and alternative medicine”, which includes yoga, meditation and other natural stress relief

Again, NO debate here. These practices provide powerful stress relief, increased focus, creativity, and lots more.

The reality: Yoga and meditation provide significant stress relief and other benefits that yield significant results in weeks or months with regular, frequent practice. Many who try meditation give up too soon because they feel it’s “not working.”

What about psychotherapy? Does “talk” therapy provide lasting stress relief?

A study performed by Dr. Dawson Church, PhD and Dr. David Feinstein, PhD, measured cortisol levels before and after treatment.

Research on Chronic Stress83 participants were divided into 3 groups: the 1st group received an hour of of Tapping, a practice that combines “talk” therapy with acupressure treatments; the 2nd group received an hour of psychotherapy (“talk” therapy); the 3rd group (control group) received no treatment.

Results: The 1st group demonstrated a 24% decrease in cortisol levels; the 2nd and 3rd groups showed no change in cortisol levels.

The reality: Pyschotherapy alone relieves stress, but over a long period of time. The immediate benefits of psychotherapy don’t register in your body, where excessive amounts of the “stress hormone” cortisol still run rampant, putting your health at risk.

Where’s the REAL stress relief?

Tapping, the practice that produced a 24% decrease in cortisol after just one hour, blends Western psychotherapy or “talk” therapy with Eastern wisdom about “meridian points” or acupressure.

Acts fast. Use anytime, anywhere. For 5 minutes or 20.

Because it accesses your emotions and body simultaneously, it provides powerful stress relief, lowering cortisol levels faster than most traditional and alternative stress relief methods.

Study findings: Tapping balances activity between the sympathetic and parasympathetic regions of your brain, producing “a neutral emotional state,” the gold standard of health and wellness.

Dr. Church, PhD: Tapping “gives you the best of both worlds, body and mind, like getting a massage during a psychotherapy session.”

More about the science behind it:

The sympathetic region of your brain
Prepares your body for vigorous physical activity, speeding your heart, dilating pupils, contracting blood vessels, reducing digestive secretions.

In a perpetually active “stressed out” state, you’re more vulnerable to heart disease, high blood pressure, insomnia, weight gain, irritability, and impatience. This is what chronic stress looks like in the early stages.

The parasympathetic region of your brain

How Chronis Stress Effects the BrainPrepares your body for relaxation, cell regeneration, and digestion by slowing the heart, constricting the pupils, stimulating digestive secretions, and dilating blood vessels.

In an overactive state, you suffer from depression, weakened immune response, fatigue and diminished motivation. à This is what chronic stress looks like over time.

The Takeaway:

“High sympathetic / low parasympathetic ratios have been linked to both psychological and physiological disorders and may, in fact, “be the final pathway linking negative states and conditions to ill health.””
CREDIT: Dr. Dawson Church, PhD and Dr. David Feinstein, PhD, “Modulating Gene Expression Through Psychotherapy: The Contribution of Non-Invasive Somatic Interventions”

The Alternative:

EFT Tapping regulates activity between these regions to achieve balanced activity and optimal health.

Study finding: EFT Tapping is “substantially more powerful” than diaphragmatic breathing at lowering cortisol.

Extra Benefit #1: Relieved of the excessive cortisol and “adrenal fatigue,” your body and mind re-balance. Your energy is restored, you sleep better, feel healthy again. Your metabolism is restored. Your body is again able to heal itself.

Extra Benefit #2: The comprehensive body/mind stress relief you get from Tapping in minutes, takes hours, weeks, or months to achieve with meditation, yoga, “talk” therapy, and other treatments.

Extra Benefit #3: If you already practice meditation, yoga, affirmations, and others, Tapping can enhance the benefits of those other practices by lowering your cortisol levels much quicker, promoting even deeper relaxation “on the cushion” and beyond.

What it all means:

Chronic stress is sabotaging your health and well-being, making you more vulnerable to depression, disease, and worse.

EFT Tapping quickly relieves chronic stress on physical and mental/emotional levels.

What did you learn in the post above? Is chronic stress affecting you? What stresses you out the most? Are you committed to changing this? When? :)

 



 

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351 Comments on this post

  1. Trudi says:

    Nick Ortner, thank you so much for this really useful article on the effects of long-term stress, the damage, and alternative solutions!