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Do you know what stress does to your body? πŸ«€ πŸ‘ 🧠 🦡

published4 months ago
2 min read

Hi! I’m Jenna. Welcome to The Spark Wellness Newsletter. I’m a holistic mental wellness coach. I operate at the intersection of mental health, self-care, nutrition and REAL LIFE.
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This is what you can expect to receive in my weekly(ish) newsletter:

  • Strategies for managing stress and overwhelm
  • Evidence-based research and recommendations you can use to take care of your mental wellness
  • Recipes and insights that can help you use good mood foods to boost your energy – the best antidote to stress!
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Curious? You can also check out my bio and my work here.

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Announcements

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I've got three spots open for 1-1 clients. There is still time to take action on your wellness goals for this year and, at the same time, build a foundation for success for next year. Reply to this message and I'll send you more information.

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Do you know what stress does to your body?

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Anyone dealing with stress will know that it can have some seriously scary physical and emotional effects. What you may be less familiar with is why this happens.

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When your body senses a β€œthreat”, it releases stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. This also sets in motion a whole heap of physical changes that we describe as fight or flight symptoms. Originally, this response was intended to give our ancestors the best chance of survival against physical threats. These days, it’s a less helpful response to running late, getting a message from your boss or looking at your bank balance.

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Here are a few common physical symptoms of stress and why they occur:

  • Racing heart - Ever feel like your heart is pounding out of your chest? Stress hormones encourage your heart to beat a little bit faster so that blood can get to organs and limbs more quickly. This is helpful if you need to run away or protect yourself. But, over time, chronic stress can raise your blood pressure.

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  • Rapid breathing - As well as increasing your heart rate, your body also increases respiration to give an energy and oxygen boost. Some of the oxygen goes to your brain so you can be more alert and some goes to your muscles so they are ready for action.

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  • Dilated pupils - Your pupils can get more dilated to allow more light to get to your eyes. β€œTunnel vision” is also pretty common. For our ancestors, this would have meant a better chance of surviving life or death threats! You might notice your other senses, especially hearing, are heightened as your body is on alert.

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  • Brain fog and focus issues - For our ancestors, the brain needed to focus solely on the β€œthreat” in question. For us, this focus on what's causing stress can result in brain fog, poor memory and poor cognition in general.

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  • Digestion and reproduction - non-essential body systems slow down so that energy can be focused on essential processes for survival. Chronic stress can lead to digestive problems, food cravings (you need quick sources of energy to escape dangerous situations) and can aggravate conditions like IBS. When you're stressed, your body doesn't break down or absorb the nutrients from what you eat as effectively, so looking at nutritional support and sometimes supplements is especially important when you are facing chronic stress (see this blog post for more about how stress and nutrition are related).

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One of the tools I use with clients is the Stress & Wellbeing Assessment which is a research-based and validated assessment to help identify the different areas of your life that are contributing to your stress. I know it sometimes seems like everything is stressful so it can help to separate the different contributing factors. The assessment also looks at measures of wellness and resilience - in other words, what's working for you!

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Using this tool also allows clients to see the progress they are making. We often need tangible proof that small shifts are making a difference because we don't notice gradual changes over time.

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If you are feeling overwhelmed and need some 1-1 support, let's talk. I've got 3 spots for new coaching clients starting between now and January. Reply to this email to find out more about how we can work together to reduce stress and its effects on your body to meet your wellness goals.

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Take care and be well!

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Jenna Kelland
Certified Holistic Nutrition Coachβ„’
Adult Educator (MEd and PhD)
Owner, Spark Wellness

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