What’s Wrong with Chronic Stress ?

Happy Sunday Everyone ! So today, I was lazing around on my couch in my pj watching the Great British Bake-off. Sounds like the perfect Sunday afternoon right ? Around 5 pm though something started to shift, I felt a knot in my stomach. Then lots of negative thoughts started flooding my brain : ''I should have been to Pilates today'', ''I should stop spending all my money on Asos'', ''I have a big meeting on Tuesday''... It took me a few minutes to pinpoint what was going on : I was getting the Sunday Night Blues. According to a poll, Britons start officially dreading Monday at 4:13 pm on Sundays. The reason why we get the blues ahead of the working week is the same reason we enjoy our Fridays so much : the anticipation (of the weekend freedom vs an overflowing inbox) . Whether you love your job or not, you might find yourself having anxiety around tea time on Sundays.

In response to a stressful situation, our body secretes a stress hormone called cortisol, which alters our physiological response. Cortisol helps us cope with acute stressful situations by increasing blood levels for energy mobilization. However, if the level of cortisol is chronically elevated, it results in a number of destructive effects including visceral fat deposits, memory impairment, mood swings, changes in sleeping habits, digestive issues, and immune system impairment. In other words, you turn into a hangry sleep-deprived grumpy cat !

Besides making us much less able to enjoy life and much more unpleasant to deal with, chronic stress can cause a cascading series of physiological responses in our systems that lead to serious health issues in the long run:

  • Nutrient deficiencies ( Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium and Zinc) due to a decrease in nutrient absorption and increase in excretion of certain minerals

  • Increased chances of cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure.

  • Reduced beneficial gut bacteria, which can lower immunity and cause digestive issues.

  • Reduced metabolism and increased fat storage

  • Increased oxidative stress (imbalance between free radicals and the ability to counteract their effects) which increases premature aging ( yes, you read that well )

Now here are a few tips to manage your Sunday Blues and deal with chronic stress :

  • Use “nervine” herbs, which are soothing to the nervous system to encourage calm and relaxation. Examples are chamomile and valerian.

  • If you take a multivitamin, make sure it contains B-complex vitamins and 15 mg of Zinc. Zinc promotes immune and digestive health. And B vitamins support adrenal function ( cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands ) and are important for the production of energy.

  • Want a natural high ? Consume more almonds, walnuts, lentils, brown rice, spinach, banana and orange as they stimulate the production of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which helps the body to relax.

  • Explore coffee alternatives such as Yerba mate, green tea or rooibos to avoid the caffeine jitter.

  • Say no. No explanation needed !

  • Last but not least, get busy on Sundays. Most people get anxious because they don't have any plan and therefore have all time in the world to overthink. Go to the movies with your mates, call your friends, walk your dog. And if you know that your week is going to be mental anyway, make a plan and write down your priorities so that first it clears your mind and second it gives you a sense of control and confidence over your working week.

A complementary book I would highly recommend if you really want to kick stress in the butt is : The life-changing magic of not giving a f*ck from Sarah Knight.

So take a chill pill, listen to Bob Marley and don't worry about a thing !