It all started on Saturday when some itchy spots came up. I just assumed they were insect bites, now that the weather is getting warmer. As it got worse, I dropped by the chemist to ask for a cream to apply to “itchy bites or a rash”. That was a mistake (which I will touch on later), and they recommended a cortisone cream to reduce the inflammation and irritation.
After no improvement from the cream and it spreading even more, I had to go see my GP. She took one look at it, and described it as a “textbook case of shingles”. This is the dormant chickenpox virus which resides in the spinal cord and is usually kept in check by a healthy immune system. When my GP said that my immune system must have issues, I was a bit shocked! “Wait a minute! I am eating well, sleeping enough, still exercising regularly, have a good work/life balance, and have an easy-going personality! My immune system should be fine!?”
Well, deeper analysis confirmed otherwise. 2016 has not been a banner year for anyone, with celebrity deaths and geopolitical issues abound. Well, November 2016 seemed to be a concentration of stress and terribleness for me!
All these factors put my body in a constant state of FIGHT OR FLIGHT, which is what leads to adrenal fatigue and reduced immune system function. Adrenaline and Cortisol are important hormones for a healthy body – Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.
However, Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. The body’s stress-response system is usually self-limiting. Once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities. But when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on. The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037
It’s this CONSTANT state of stress that suppressed my immune function and released the dormant virus that is perversely causing me even more stress and anxiety! Rubbing in some cortisone cream certainly did not help.
For you though, it might be the fact that the 9-5 grind has now expanded to 8-6, 7, 8pm or even longer! Or the constant connectivity to work via home laptop or phone means you never get away from the office. Possibly you’re struggling to get into the booming Sydney property market, or the soaring cost of education and health care (sorry to get political again!), or any number of things that might be causing constant flight or flight responses.
To address this, I have done a Facebook detox of all my political news pages, picked up some anti-inflammatory supplements, and will maintain a balanced lifestyle in line with the M.A.R.T.I.A.L. System and relax more leading up to Christmas. As I recover from my dental issues and foot injuries, and concentrate on things other than politics like my friends, family, business and hobbies, my stress levels will decrease and my immune system will recover.
If you’re looking for some more information, here is an article by my good friend and qualified naturopath Beth Bridges, that addresses what you can do to reduce stress. http://bethbridges.com.au/give-back-adrenals/