One detrimental yet vital process to life is stress. We are all familiar with "I'm so stressed out!", "This Stress is killing me!", "I can't sleep, I'm too stressed out."
Well, these cliche phrases are true! Stress has been linked to every modern degenerative disease know today and is a major host of some of the most critical illnesses, including cardiac disease, diabetes type 2, type1, hypothyroid, low T and much more.
Actually, it has been shown that up to 85% of diseases are linked to stress and the physiologic processes behind it. Stress has two main characteristics, one being acute stress and the other being chronic stress. Acute stress is a normal physiological response and historically occurred when a Mammoth charged a caveman, and the caveman felt the stress to escape.
Acute stress can even be classified as good. If it wasn't for the processes behind stress, we would not survive as humans; especially in the corporate environment. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Chronic stressors. These are what we experience every day of our lives. These stressors include traffic/road rage, relationships, work, school, overload of tasks, lack of sleep, poor sleep, loud music, exercise, etc.
The Basics of Stress
Stress is a very complex subject matter because it involves so many things internally. Stress, being a relative feeling or something that we are exposed to. When this happens, the body sends a signal through the sympathetic nervous system to the hypothalamus in the brain. The sympathetic nervous is one of two branches of the autonomic nervous system which is responsible for autoregulation of things we are not-in-control of.
The hypothalamus then releases CTH (CorticoTropic Hormone) to make the pituitary gland secrete ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic hormone) which then stimulates the adrenal gland. The adrenal gland is the primary gland associated with the stress response. There are two components of the adrenal gland which are the adrenal medulla and the outer cortex.
Each component of the Adrenals is responsible for secreting different hormones. The Medulla releases epinephrine and norepinephrine while the outer cortex's primary role is to secrete hormones deemed corticosteroids. The main corticosteroid which accounts for over 95% of corticosteroid release is Cortisol.
Many of you have probably heard of cortisol before. This is the primary stress hormone that is released in stressful situations. It doesn't matter what the stressor is, cortisol will be released, and the length of time in which it is released will be dictated by the degree of the stressor.
So if you stress to the extreme when you spill coffee on your Spanish leather shoes, we may need to work on mindset coaching. Though I will say, I would not be the happiest person if that were me.
Cortisol is an energy mobilizing hormone. Meaning that when we stress and cortisol is released, energy needs, and will be mobilized from somewhere. This is a good thing if you are trying to escape the neighbor's dog before it catches you but If you're in the waiting room of your favorite restaurant and stressing, that energy is being mobilized for nothing.
The energy either comes from breaking down stored glycogen or from the reconstruction of proteins and fats to glucose which is deemed gluconeogenesis. This glucose is now present in the bloodstream and ready to fuel your "escape". As we have discussed though, most of the time, those stressful situations, aren't really a "live or die" type of situation.
So, when all that energy is mobilized, what happens to it? It goes right back into storage by a process via lipogenesis with lipo meaning fat and genesis meaning creation. Thus, you have now created more fat within the body by stressing over having to wait in line.
Congrats! All kidding aside, this is a very serious epidemic occurring in our society today and is extremely relevant to corporate health and wellness. Employees are super stressed with work/life balance, workload, company culture, and more. This is not to say that all employees experience these stressors, but at least one symptom may be present; which is why a wellness program is important for organizations. With mindset coaching, prioritization coaching, regulation of company culture and more, this stressor can be better controlled.
About the Author
Zach Younce is the owner of LNE-FIT Corporate Health and Wellness. He started in the wellness industry at sixteen years old; he was anorexic athlete in high school and developed a severe heart condition. He uses the knowledge he gained from this experience to help educate employees about all aspects of wellness including lifestyle, sustainable nutrition and behavioral change habits.
He founded LNE-FIT with the goal of innovating a new way in which corporate wellness is thought of. He is a strong advocate of sustainability. He works exclusively with companies interested in truly investing into their employees' wellness and who desire to create a thriving wellness based culture. Everything he does with sustainability and instilling new habits with the result being a more confident and healthier state both physically and emotionally.