September 21 2017
There are some very real mental benefits to running–our favorite form of exercise can even help you keep your cool during the workday.
Somewhere along the way, we decided that being stressed and tired was a badge of honor. When you ask people how they are, they usually respond with being busy or having a lot to do. We of course, do have a lot to do, but why do we publicize it the way we do? Why are we proud to be so exhausted and of having stressful lives? Because somewhere along the way, it became synonymous with success and accomplishment. But the truth is, being under constant stress isn’t good for our bodies.
“New research is showing that stress can actually rewire a very important part of the brain known as the Limbic System, which controls emotion and memory,” explains Dr. Bradley Nelson, D.C., author of The Emotion Code. “Recent studies of mice have revealed that the brains of highly-stressed mice suffered from physical changes that made them more prone to depression and anxiety.”
It’s not just your brain that is affected. Dr. Nelson explains that other side-effects include lowered immune function and elevated blood sugar and blood fat levels.
“Chronic stress results in the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response, or the body’s response to trauma or injury,” adds Dr. Nelson. “In addition, another fascinating study is now indicating that the level of stress-induced inflammation in the body is directly related to the emotions that a person chooses in response to their stressful situations. If you choose negative emotions, you are choosing more inflammation, but if you choose to respond to stressful situations with cheerfulness and acceptance, your inflammation levels will be lower. Inflammation is now thought to be the underlying cause of many illnesses, including allergies, digestive disorders, diabetes, heart disease and cancer”
If you are chronically stressed, you may have increased susceptibility to illness, depression, anxiety, allergies, exhaustion and increased pain in joints and muscles. For runners specifically, all of these things damper your training and ability to manage it with other parts of life.
In Dr. Nelson’s experience, following these five steps is often enough to change the ‘automatic’ stress response into a healthier one. He offers these five simple ways to respond in stressful situations to improve your mood and health: