We are experiencing a very unique type of emotional upheaval right now with the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone alive today probably hasn’t experienced anything like this before, so it is difficult to know how to handle it emotionally. From health and economic stress to social distancing, it’s more important now than ever to support your emotional health.
While most consider emotional health to be only a psychological issue, we believe emotional health is also a physiological issue. Physiology refers to how your organs and body systems function. Let’s explore how stress affects your body and then how your body affects your emotions.
How Stress Affects Your Body
Stress is interpreted by the brain in the hypothalamus. Your hypothalamus communicates via chemical messengers with your pituitary gland. The hypothalamus and the pituitary talk about the stress, then send a message to the adrenals, whose job is to physiologically deal with the stress. The body’s primary reaction to stress is pumping out adrenaline (the “fight or flight” hormone), and the secondary reaction is increased cortisol (the stress hormone) and DHEA (the “fountain of youth” hormone).
If these hormones are out of balance (namely the cortisol-to-DHEA ratio), you will maladapt to stress. Here are some symptoms that might result from an inability to adapt to stress:
- Sleep problems
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Digestive problems like indigestion, gas and bloating
- Hiatal hernia
- Food sensitivities
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Low energy
- Carbohydrate cravings
- Insulin resistance (precursor to type 2 diabetes)
- Weight gain
- Increased infections
- Allergic reactions
- Yeast overgrowth
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Body aches and pains
- Any condition that ends in “itis,” such as arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, gastritis, sinusitis, bronchitis, dermatitis, etc.
Stress is impossible to avoid, especially right now, so it’s not about trying to avoid stress. What you want to support is your body’s ability to adapt to the stress in a healthy way. One of the best ways to physiologically handle stress better is to add supplemental adrenal support. Our MOOD ReClaimed dietary supplement (https://shapereclaimed.com/shape-reclaimed-products/mood-reclaimed/) combines three unique, adaptogenic herbs: Holy Basil, Rhodiola and Maca.
Adaptogenic herbs work like a thermostat to sense imbalances and naturally correct them. They enable the body’s cells to access more energy and help the body utilize oxygen more efficiently. They’re called adaptogens because of their unique ability to “adapt” their function according to your body’s specific needs. MOOD ReClaimed not only helps your body physiologically adapt to stress, but can an also bring you the emotional balance you so desperately need during this difficult time.
How Your Physiology Affects Your Emotions
While stress has a direct effect on your physical body, your physical body can also affect your emotions. For example, if your blood sugar is low, you may become “hangry” (hungry + angry). The anger and irritability you experience in this situation is not a problem with your psychology, it is an imbalance in your physiology. Low blood sugar also affects your brain directly. Your brain needs glucose (blood sugar) in order to function. If it doesn’t receive enough glucose, you will experience brain fog. This can be misinterpreted as a psychological disorder: depression. Supporting your emotional health in this situation means balancing your blood sugar with a good diet (adequate protein and fiber, minimal sugar) and supplements. (If this is something you’re dealing with, the SHAPE Program is excellent for balancing blood sugar!)
It is important to address emotional health from both a psychological and a physiological perspective. In addition to low blood sugar, imbalances in blood pressure, thyroid hormones, steroid hormones (estrogen, testosterone, etc.), liver function, immunity and other body systems can all affect your emotional health. This is why it is so important to regularly work with a holistic healthcare practitioner, especially during our current crisis. We can help you identify physiological triggers and address the root cause of emotional problems.
Another Great Resource for Emotional Health
If you’re finding you have a little more time on your hands these days, there’s no better time than now to start the SELF ReClaimed self-empowerment program. This 5-part toolkit is a must-have to help you discover limiting beliefs that have been affecting your emotional health. Through the journal exercises, bibliotherapy book lists, Change Challenges and pondering topics like peace, love, faith and joy, you can turn those limiting beliefs into limit-less beliefs and emerge on the other side of this crisis the person you were always meant to be!
We are here to support you in any way we can. What is happening in the world right now is scary, but we believe there are many lessons to learn and positive changes that can come from our shared experience. Thanks to technology, we can continue to be connected and support each other.