In a recent post we explored what CBD oil actually is, where it comes from, why it doesn’t get you high (sorry), and some of the health benefits that have been associated with it. In this post, with some help from Nutritional Therapist Grace Kingswell, we want to explore why reducing stress is so beneficial for our bodies.
In my opinion, stress is now one of the biggest challenges facing our modern nation - The World Health Organisation has called it “the epidemic of the 21st Century.” We are all walking around with low-lying, residual stress that’s exacerbating chronic symptoms and increasing our risk of conditions like insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Low libido, anxiety, poor memory, inability to concentrate, many gut problems and even problems like type 2 diabetes and hypertension can all be linked back to chronic stress.
Unfortunately, along with incredible advances in technology we’ve also developed a lifestyle that is so vastly different from the way we evolved to exist. It’s almost like the rate at which we’ve industrialised and grown has vastly outstripped our more primitive bodily functions and the way we deal with stress. Jumping back a few hundred years our stressors tended to be actual real threats to our life - life or death situations, that as quickly as they appeared (a predator jumping out from behind a bush for example), they disappeared as well. Our bodies are well adapted to deal with these unique stressors and we quickly flood our muscles with glucose ready to fight or flight and produce cortisol, our stress hormone, to help us make decisions faster and react quicker.
Let’s now consider an average day in the life of a 21st Century human: We wake up with a loud alarm, stressor 1. We check our phone and see an email from our boss, stressor 2. We sit down to have breakfast but suddenly realise we’re running late to catch the train to work and fly into a panic to get out of the door on time, stressor 3. We get to work and our email inbox is overflowing and rather than sit back and take a deep breath we go get a coffee to put us even more on edge and dive straight in, stressor 4. After work we go and do a HIIT workout to ‘blow off steam,’ when actually exercise of that intensity is another way to put yet more stress on our bodies, stressor 5. And so the list goes on. This low-level chronic stress, meaning all-the-time-stress, is what’s really causing the problem.
When we are in a stressed out mode we are generally operating in what’s called our Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). This is our ‘flight or flight’ zone, where everything is supercharged and primed to help up escape danger. When our bodies are operating in this zone they, cleverly, switch off anything that is not essential to life - digestion, reproductive system, libido etc. We also have a Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), which is our ‘rest and digest’ zone. Increasingly, 21st Century dwellers living hectic lifestyles are less and less able to get into this PNS so crucial functions like libido and adequate digestion are being switched off. We know that IBS has very strong links to stress, as does Type 2 Diabetes due to the insulin resistance that we can develop from constantly elevating our blood sugar in stressful situations.
It’s crucially important that in this day and age we take measures to drastically reduce our stress. Ideally, the place to start is with yourself and not with supplements. Developing a calming morning routine, switching your phone off an hour before bed and not turning it on first thing, practicing yoga or deep breathing regularly and getting into the habit of breathing deeply when you feel anxiety or stress coming on and connecting with nature are all practical and impactful ways to really change how you deal with and experience stress. Then, once you have that in place, looking at something like CBD oil could be a clever way of optimising this process even further but it’s important to note that CBD isn’t regulated by the FDA so it’s a bit of a free for all in terms of quality.
There is so much in our daily environment that can ‘stress us out,’ even down to poor food choices, non-organic food and bad gut health. So it’s important to take these stress-relieving measures alongside a healthy lifestyle in general - one in which you fuel your body with a whole load of beneficial ingredients, get adequate sleep and practice a mindful approach to the daily grind.