Unlocking the Secrets: 3 Surprising Stressors You've Been Overlooking

Monday, March 04, 2024

Micah Lucie, hell to healthy coach presents:

Unlocking the Secrets: 3 Surprising Stressors You've Been Overlooking

Modern life is BUSY! When it comes to my family, you could probably post our picture right next to the word busy in the dictionary. Multiple businesses, four kids in school, sports, gymnastics, spending time with family, trying to go on family trips....the list goes on and on! For most of us, we associate stress with all the things we are involved in. "Work is so stressful!" "I've got so much on my plate right now!" I'm sure you've said something along these lines before. The problem with stress is that is goes FAR beyond just our packed calendars. Stress can arise from multiple destinations, with many of them affecting our health and our lives without us even knowing it.

The way our mind and body handles stress is baked into the makeup of who we are. The reason? Survival. Our early ancestors faced a world that was unexplored and dangerous. They faced predators trying to kill them, weather that was constantly changing and the constant drive to find food, shelter and water. Our stress response back then was a reaction to something that was truly life-threatening. For us today, we aren't running from bears who want to eat us. Most of us are running from one activity to the next! Here's the thing to know: our mind and body can't distinguish between a REAL threat and a PERCEIVED threat. So, if you have a big presentation coming up and start feeling stressed, your mind and body are going to assume it's a threat to your life and activate the stress response.   

Our response to stress is supposed to be TEMPORARY. Our mind and bodies assume that this threat to our "survival" is going to go away soon. If you escape the bear in the woods and are finally safe, then your mind and body switches gears to rebuild and repair you. The temporary boost of stress can be beneficial, but if the stress is happening all the time (chronic stress), then major problems can arise. That's because stress is really, REALLY hard on the body. Chronic stress can lead to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and mental health problems like anxiety and depression. It can also mess with your sleep, appetite, and energy levels, leaving you feeling drained and worn out. 

Not all stress is in plain sight. There are several areas of stress that could be causing a stress response but we might not even know it. Knowing what they are gives you the chance to eliminate them and lessen your stress burden. 

 Let's dive into the top 3 surprising areas of stress. 

1. Mental & Emotional 

We are fortunate to live in a time where mental health is getting the spotlight it deserves. Even with that, there is still a stigma with admitting that you are having issues. Not all mental and emotional issues have to be tied to severe trauma. Living every day life can create its own burdens. The problem with the mental and emotional part of stress is that every person perceives these elements differently. Where one person might be afraid of something, such as public speaking, another person might really enjoy it. Another example is being social. Some people are more inclined to be introverted and therefore see social gatherings as stressful, while others are more extroverted and gain energy from being with a group of people. Unlike other stressors, the mental and emotional side is harder to change. Some of the items that would be included here are fear, worry, excitement and anxiety. Still, there are some that are not as "surface level". One is relationship problems. If you are in a marriage that is hanging on by a thread, then that could be leading to chronic stress. Another is a lack of purpose. If you are struggling with finding what you want to do and can't seem to take the next step, then that could be a chronic stressor affecting your health. Also, the attitude you bring on a daily basis. If you are mostly negative in the way you think and speak, then that's going cause a chronic stress response. 

Dealing with ongoing mental and emotional stress can eventually become a "normal" part of our lives. One way is that we adapt to the level of stress. Our minds and bodies are incredibly resilient and will find ways to accommodate to the state we are in. For example, the first time you felt anxiety might have been really alarming, but now that you've been experiencing it for months, you've become desensitized to it. Guess what? Your body hasn't. The stress is still there and your stress response systems are doing their best to keep you going.  There's also a "pride" thing that gets attached with stress. Many of us like to "put on a brave face" as we soldier through difficult times. We want to appear strong and that we've got it under control. This creates a disconnect between our conscious awareness and what's really going on in beneath the surface. The stress response is still happening, even if we don't want to admit it to ourselves. Like I mentioned, chronic stress can lead to a wide range of issues and symptoms. Mental and emotional stress are no different. When our stress reserves are depleted, those symptoms will start to rear their ugly heads. It could be mood swings, gastrointestinal issues, physical pain and much more. Its easy to attach those symptoms to something else and try to cover them up with temporary solutions. Until the mental and emotional stressors are eliminated, those symptoms aren't going anywhere (and most likely going to get worse!) 

2. Physical & Biomechanics 

The longer you live, the more likely you are to experience some sort of physical pain or trauma. Its inevitable. While our bodies are expertly designed to heal injuries, they aren't perfect. Lingering or repetitive physical injuries can be a source of surprising stress and lead to even further problems. For example, my dad was a postman for over 30 years. He had a walking route the entire duration of his career. Because of this, a couple of the discs in his vertebrae are degenerative and will cause him pain from time to time. This ongoing pain is triggering the stress response in him. Without getting it repaired or adjusted, that physical stress becomes chronic and can lead to further health problems. Let's take a look at some more of these physical and biomechanical stressors. 

One of the big ones is poor posture, especially sitting down. I spend a lot of time on my computer as I manage my clients virtually. I often will find myself slouching down in my computer chair, where I reposition to be more upright. This repeated slouching can damage my back and other areas and become a source of chronic stress. If you ever played contact sports, then there's a chance you could be dealing with physical stress. I've heard several times where someone hurt their knee playing football or had thrown out their shoulder from playing baseball back in high school.  Another source is previous car accidents.  One of my family members is on disability because of the injuries they sustained in the wreck. 

If you are struggling with a condition that compresses nerves, then that is also a major source of chronic stress. This would include conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, a herniated disc and neuropathy.  

3. Chemical & Biochemical 

In terms of the 3 categories, chemical and biochemical stressors are some of the most pervasive. They can have far reaching effects across our minds and bodies and by eliminating them, we can see some of the fastest benefits. I'll start with one that is near and dear to my heart: food inflammation. Our diets are one the most life-giving or life-stealing components of stress. The reason food is such a big deal is because the foods we eat provide the nutrients our body uses are all of our functions. If we are eating nutrient-dense foods, then our bodies will function more effectively. I love this quote from Ann Wigmore, "The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison." The tricky part of foods is that we all response differently to them. We are genetically predisposed to process foods a certain way as well as utilize foods a certain way. Here's an example. My wife loves more carbohydrate heavy meals. She feels better after eating them and has more energy. If I eat a carb-heavy meal, then I am very tired after and find that I'm sluggish for most of the day. Our bodies process food differently. On top of that, we all have sensitivities to different foods. That means that a certain food for me might cause inflammation, while it might not for someone else. That inflammation from food causes a stress response. Eating those same foods all the time leads to chronic stress. 

Another area is prescription and recreational drugs. As a survivor of cardiac arrest, I am on several heart medications. They have a purpose BUT they are also something foreign to my biological makeup. I have to manage the other areas of my health so that the effects of these drugs don't create chronic stress. The same goes for recreational drugs, but in a much more damaging way. Using recreational drugs might make someone feel "good" for a moment, but internally, their body is on high stress alert as it tries to process and eliminate the harmful agent. Alcohol and smoking can certainly be put into this category. I enjoy an occasional glass of wine, but beyond that, you are asking for trouble. When it comes to smoking...there is ZERO justification for doing it. One other is caffeine. Caffeine is technically a drug and even though it can be beneficial, overuse can lead to some seriously problems, especially when it comes to the heart. Please be careful and be smart! 

In terms of chemical exposure, there are so many ways we can be exposed. The clothes we wear (fabric, detergent, etc), the air we breathe (environment around where you live, not changing filters, etc.), the foods we eat (pesticides and herbicides), what we put on our skin (makeups, lotions, etc.) and the products we use (household cleaners, etc.) Start reading the ingredients of the items you use and consume and then research what they are. It will be eye-opening!  Another really unseen problem is mold exposure. Mold can cause detrimental mental and physical health problems and often is one of the last options that people consider when it comes to their mental and physical health problems. It could be hiding within your home, but if you work at an office or in a building, then there could be mold there as well. There's no "quick fix" to mold removal. It has to be tested and eliminated by a professional.

Final Thoughts

I hope you have gained some valuable insight into the unseen world of stress. Removing stress is something that can have far reaching impact on your health and your life. I'd love for you to continue to learn more about stress and ways to start eliminating it. I've included a link to my "Less Stress Checklist" below. Please download your FREE copy of that today!

As the Hell to Healthy Coach, I hope to get the chance to work with you on not just your stress, but all areas of your life. If you're ready to take the next step then click the Book A Call link below. I look forward to meeting you!  

Micah Lucie, FDNP 
​Hell to Healthy Coach 

Micah Lucie is a certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDNP). As the Hell to Healthy Coach, he helps transform the lives of his clients by uncovering healing opportunities and guiding them through a personalized lifestyle modification program. 

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Micah Lucie, FDNP

Hell to Healthy Coach 

Hi there! I'm Micah Lucie, the Hell to Healthy Coach. My passion is to uncover the reasons behind someone's health issues and put the power of restoration back in their hands.