CHEF TIMOTHY: Have you ever been jarred awake by a migraine that keeps pounding in your head like you've been scrapping with the young Mike Tyson?
If this has happened to you, your arms might've felt extremely sore and your body might've felt like it was badly bruised by the pounding. So what happened overnight? How can a person go to sleep comfortably and wake up miserable?
What causes the body to react to different demands and pressure situations? That bruising feeling could be stress, which is "the body's physical, mental or chemical reaction when we get excited or confused or when we otherwise feel unsafe or threatened."
In the mid-20th century, Dr. Hans Selye, an endocrinologist, pioneered stress research and is attributed with coining the term stress. He concluded that the majority of diseases known to mankind are rooted in the amount of stress in one's life.
Our stress levels today are pretty high. It's generally because of emotional overload, environmental toxins, and the types of food we eat. As a consequence, we're left confused and unable to relay our feelings to others to release the pressures that can bog down the mind, body and spirit.
Stress and the role it plays in our lives can be looked at from either a negative or positive perspective. For those who resist change, you most likely will experience negative stress, which means it controls you. If you are able to rise to the challenge, you no doubt are experiencing positive stress, which means stress doesn't control you.
The point I'm making here is don't let stressful situations control your life. Our lives are filled with obstacles that we aren't able to control sometimes. But we should at least try to control our emotions when a bad situation hits us head-on.
Uncontrolled stress causes tension, which leads to an increase in our cortisol level. This causes inflammation and a deleterious effect throughout the body. Cortisol is a stress hormone responsible for several stress-related changes in the body.
There are some negative factors related to cortisol. But there are some positive ones that keep us in check too, such as lowering our sensitivity to pain, increasing our immune system in fighting off diseases, and helping to increase memory function.
The negative effects of high cortisol levels can cause unwanted inflammation, which is, in a nutshell, called chronic stress. This can lead to some type of sleep disorder that affects a person's daily functions at school, place of employment and our personal lives.
High levels of stress also can increase the body's insulin and blood sugar levels. This may happen if we don't eat the right food. Some of us will eat foods that will spike or raise our sugar level.
Have you ever noticed an individual that's in a rage or hostile for no apparent reason? In most cases, that person is hypoglycemic, which can cause one to act out of character. However, when given a balanced, healthy meal – usually within 15 minutes – the sufferer will return to normal.
Diabetics are taught to control their high blood sugar imbalances with proper nutrition. But they are not told that high stress levels can cause imbalances.
Stress affects each one of us in different ways. So smile a little more. Walk, run and do things that will make you happy. And don't forget to eat healthy.