Stress and the Body
Our bodies are made up of numerous interdependent systems that rely on each other to perform their respective tasks and keep the body functioning properly. There are systems which function to monitor body temperature, blood sugar, iron levels, etc. When all of our body’s systems are working together properly, we feel balanced and healthy. Homeostasis is the process by which our internal systems adjust their levels of activity in order to maintain equilibrium.
For example, after we eat, our blood sugar rises and the pancreas produces insulin to restore balance. There are several ways to disrupt homeostasis in the body. One of the most commonly overlooked is stress; most of us get our fair share of the stuff.
The Stress Evolution
Stress is a natural coping response that has evolved within humans over hundreds of millions of years, allowing our ancestors to avoid threats, protect their families, and acquire food. We modern humans have bodies that produce the same (fight or flight) stress response in threatening situations. The one major difference? The frequency of the response triggers.
When our ancient ancestors encountered situations that triggered a stress response, one way or another, the situations were almost always resolved very quickly. Our natural evolutionary blueprint is for long periods of mellow, stress-free recovery after short bursts of necessary stress. It’s what we’re made for.
As it turns out, our modern world doesn’t seem to care a whole lot about, or isn’t even aware of that blueprint. Many of us are engaged in lifestyles that expose us to mild-to-moderate levels of chronic stress constantly. Whether it’s parenting, work, school, pets, or just trying to navigate our own emotional/psychological landscapes, it seems stress has become the rule where it used to be the exception.
How Stress Disrupts Homeostasis
The intensity of the stress response on the body disrupts homeostasis, and when we’re not able to give our minds and bodies the rest they require to recuperate, our bodies start to wear down. Along with the more familiar physical symptoms of stress like low energy, headaches, upset stomach, chest pain, Increased heart rate, insomnia, etc.
Stress is also known to reduce the effectiveness of our immune system, making us more susceptible to colds and infections.
The Covid-19 pandemic crashing this years’ presidential election has thrown our world and our routines into disarray while many of the external coping mechanisms we’ve come to rely on (gym, movies, concerts, social gatherings) have been deemed too dangerous, and removed from our stress-fighting arsenals.
Practical Stress Management
Since chronic stress decreases our immune system’s ability to fight disease, one of the best ways to protect yourself from getting sick is to focus on practical ways of managing, not only the symptoms of your stress but the stress itself.
Our Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is thought to be responsible for monitoring and regulating the homeostasis of several physiological functions including sleep, appetite, mood, and stress response, to name a few. The ECS produces Endocannabinoids to regulate the physiological functions it’s responsible for. Chronic stress-responses tend to disrupt the homeostatic functioning of our bodies’ systems, including the ECS.
Stress poorly affects our health, and poor health sure is stressful.
Introducing CBD into the body gently stimulates the CB1 and CB2 receptors. This increase makes us more sensitive to the Endocannabinoids already present within the body, improving the homeostatic efficacy of the ECS.
When stress keeps pushing us out of balance, we can push back, reclaim our wellbeing, and experience life again.