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Stuck in the Stress Cycle_Final

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>> Welcome back. Let me start by asking you when was the last time you felt completely free of stress? Have you ever felt completely free of stress? As you probably know all too well, stress is an integral factor of health. The funny thing about stress is that it can become so ingrained that we might not even know we're experiencing it. Our minds tell us that we're relaxed, but our bodies hold onto tension with a vengeance. Have you ever taken a yoga class? If so, then you understand how great it feels to hear, "Lie on your mat. It's time to end with Shavasana." Ah, corpse pose. Your body is relaxed, your mind is relaxed, and everything is relaxed. Until you realize halfway through that you're right glute muscle has, in fact, been clenched the entire time. It's hard to let go off stress, but we need to learn how to let it go, otherwise it can wreak havoc over time. When it comes to emotional eating, stress is a key player. And for some people, the connection isn't always that obvious when it's happening even though it may be apparent to others. Helping your clients navigate their emotional eating habits requires exploring their personal stress cycles. As usual, coaching includes using a bio-individual approach. For example, how does stress affect this person? And how does this person use food to cope? It also includes using a wide-angle lens by exploring beyond the food itself. Let's use a story to illustrate. Imagine you have a new client named Desiree. Desiree comes to you because she can't figure out why she has so many digestive issues. She gets cramps on a daily basis, and she often feels bloated. Desiree is a mother of six-year old triplets, and she and her husband struggle financially. Desiree claims, "I barely have time for a shower let alone self-care." She works 12-hour nightshifts as a nurse, then sleeps during the day so that she can be with her kids in the evening. She rarely sits down for a meal because she's always trying to take care of her endless to-do list. Desiree relies on comfort foods to get her through the day. She sometimes eats entire bags of chips before the kids get home. This is her only quiet time, but this only makes her feel worse. Are you stressed out after hearing that story? Well, that makes sense because today, we're talking about stress. What it is? Why it happens? And how the stress cycle impacts the mind-body loop? Before we dive in, take a moment to practice some relaxation. Hit pause and set a timer on your phone or computer for five minutes of uninterrupted breathing if possible. I'll be right here when you're ready to return. How was that? Were you able to relax? Was it hard to turn off? Did you maybe even feel stressed out because you couldn't relax or because you have too many things to do, like get through this module, to take five minutes to just simply be? If you found that challenging, you are most certainly not alone. It can be very hard to turn off. Again, we all experience stress. It's normal. That said, when it comes to the stress cycle, it's very important to learn how to manage stress in helpful ways. To understand the stress cycle, it's helpful to start with knowing about the stress response. To understand that, it's helpful to start with the body's autonomic nervous system. This system includes the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. To simplify, I'm going to refer to the sympathetic as SNS and the parasympathetic as PNS from here on out. The SNS, as you might recall from science class, is responsible for the fight or flight response. It increases heart rate, activates sweat glands, tenses the muscles, and triggers the stress hormone cortisol. Simply put, it induces the stress response. In contrast, the PNS, or the system of rest and digest, returns the body to a restful state by lowering the heart rate and blood pressure. The SNS keeps us alert and primes us for action so that we can protect ourselves if needed. When our bodies judge a situation as potentially harmful, they kick into high gear and rev up the SNS to protect us. Then when the threat is gone, the PNS takes the wheel so that the body can focus on things like digestion. Together, the SNS and PNS help our bodies maintain homeostasis or achieve balance which is exactly what our bodies like to do. Our bodies want things to stay the same so they do just about everything in their power to make sure that happens. This is why many people who try to lose weight struggle to do so. Stress gets a bad rap, but it's not always bad for you. Like other emotions, stress serves important purposes. It provides information, indicates a perceived need or want, motivates action, and connects us with others. Stress helps us cope, and it keeps us safe, of course, we want to get away from perceived threats. Notice that I said perceived threats. This is because not all threats are real. For example, do you have any phobias? Phobias are essentially perceived threats that evoke a stress response. Even if we know they're irrational, they can be tough to conquer. Luckily, we usually return to a state of calm once the threat is gone. The issue is when acute stress turns into consistent and chronic stress. Think about the typical American cultural norm of go, go, go. If the SNS, AKA the stress response, is constantly on, what do you think happens over time? The short answer is that we get used to it. Our bodies and minds find a new kind of homeostasis in a constant state of stress. The alarm keeps sounding over and over again, and our bodies adjust by staying on constant alert. Have you ever felt overwhelmed, and as a result, the smallest thing sets you off? Constant stress can make everything feel like a threat. As you probably know from personal experience, this can wreak havoc both physically and emotionally. Are you still with me? To recap so far, the sympathetic nervous system, or SNS, turns on the stress response so that we can respond to perceived threats. The parasympathetic nervous system, or PNS, returns the body to rest and digest. Together, the SNS and PNS maintain homeostasis in the body. And a new homeostasis of chronic stress develops when the SNS remains on. Okay, so how does chronic stress impact the mind-body loop? Namely, how can we apply this material to emotional eating? The fact that the mind and body are connected isn't groundbreaking news. This is what's known as the mind-body loop. The mind affects the body and the body affects the mind. Applying this to emotional eating, one could say, "I eat when I'm stressed which impairs my digestion which leads to cramps which makes me irritable, so I eat," and on it goes in one endless loop. Not a great loop to be in, wouldn't you agree? Emotional eating is often a way of coping with difficult emotions. Ironically, as we discussed, this ends up working against us. Did you know that many people who suffer from IBS symptoms often struggle with symptoms of anxiety or depression? Coincidental? Probably not. Remember, that PNS helps with digestion. So in a nutshell, we have a stress or digest situation, the SNS is on or the PNS is on. But if the SNS is always on, even on a low level, as it is with chronic stress, what do you think happens to digestion? Some food for thought as we move forward. Let's return to Desiree. She gets cramps almost daily and she seems to be in a state of chronic stress. There's little room to relax, which means there's also little room to digest. Her SNS is always on, so her PNS gathers cobwebs. She often snacks on comfort foods which probably doesn't help her feel well in the long run. She's stuck in a negative stress cycle. She uses food to help her cope and ends up feeling worse. In a negative stress cycle, a stressor triggers negative emotions and thoughts, which in turn leads to maladaptive behaviors, unpleasant physical symptoms, and more negative emotions as a result of those behaviors and symptoms. In other words, we get stuck in a harmful cycle and can't get out because our coping mechanisms work against us. Over time, staying in the state of chronic stress, one, wears the body down by inhibiting digestion and increasing inflammation. Two, wears emotions down, for example, by increasing irritability in general. Three, reduces optimal health. And four, increases sensitivity to stress. As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, you can guide your clients through learning how to manage stress by helping them shift to a more positive stress cycle. A positive stress cycle involves creating more health and happiness promoting responses. Like emotional healing, this includes accepting and tolerating stress. In fact, mindset makes a huge difference. Did you know that changing your mind about stress can change your body's response to it? We've included a link to a great TED Talk in the Skill Building Activities that discusses this more, so be sure to look. Self-regulation, managing stress in helpful ways plays an important role in this process. You can help your clients increase awareness of their stress levels and learn how to crowd out harmful thoughts and behaviors with more beneficial and self-healing ones. After all, positive moods usually decrease chronic stress, and in turn, decrease harmful emotional eating habits. To sum it all up, stress is an integral factor in emotional eating. Getting stuck in a negative stress cycle can, one, negatively affect the mind body loop, and, two, drive harmful eating habits. We all cope differently and we all use food sometimes. Healing emotions by learning to manage stress in helpful ways can help create a more healing relationship with food. That's all for now. Are you ready to apply this material to yourself? We've included an exercise for you called Your Stress Cycle and Eating Connection. Set aside some time to fill it out, then spend 5 to 10 minutes journaling about anything that stood out to you. How does stress impact your eating habits? Remember, doing the work yourself informs your work as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. Share with your course mates in the Facebook group. Again, we're here to support each other. Thanks for joining me. I look forward to seeing you soon.

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Duration: 12 minutes and 10 seconds
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Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
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Views: 5
Posted by: integrativenutrition on Aug 30, 2018

Stuck in the Stress Cycle_Final

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