5 Types of Stress

Medical research estimates 95% of human illnesses are the result of stress, which is a product of lifestyle1. Unmanaged stress can kill you, but fortunately, a holistic lifestyle approach can set you in balance. Stress is commonly thought to be a villain that attacks our mental health, but there’s so much more to it than that.

How did stress become a villain?

The chemicals of stress are highly addictive. They’re so addictive that people often find themselves in a loop of stressful negative thoughts, day after day without even realizing it. It’s typical to feed life’s stresses by working at the same job, staying in toxic relationships, and doing unknowingly harmful activities. Each of these reaffirm a stressful state of being, leading to sadness, depression, confusion, and emptiness.

Why do we experience stress?

Stress is neither bad nor good. It’s a chemical reaction that not only keeps us alive, but also helps us grow strong and stay healthy. It’s important to remember this innate response system requires balance, not elimination. Additionally, since stress has been so thoroughly studied for decades, there’s an abundance of information on the science around it and methods to achieve balance.

“95% of people develop diseases from stress. Only 5% of people are born with genetic problems.” – Dr. Bruce Lipton

5 Types of stress

My holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle focuses on balancing five types of stress:

  1. Physical stress
  2. Chemical stress
  3. Mental stress
  4. Thermal stress
  5. Electromagnetic stress
Whether a person has one or all five types of stress out of balance, allowing any form of stress to go unmanaged can be harmful.

Physical stress

Movement (exercise) is a form of physical stress commonly known for its positive benefits.

For centuries, exercise has been recommended by doctors, health experts, fitness specialists, and governments. The right amount of exercise helps increase metabolism, as well as bone and muscle density. It also releases feel-good chemicals, such as dopamine and endorphins, which elevate your mood and reduce both chemical and mental stress.

Too little physical stress leads to lack of energy and excess fat, while too much of it can lead to immune system suppression, chronic fatigue, and a host of other health issues.

Our lifestyles and stress sources have changed quite a bit.

Movement became a popular activity in recent decades largely due to the changes in our environment. Compared with our ancestors, the modern environments we have evolved to live in don’t require much physical effort for survival.

We no longer need to spend hours per day hunting, gathering, or cooking. We get food from mass producers of meat, dairy, fruit, and vegetables, and we are able to receive groceries and cooked food wherever we are using our mobile devices. Therefore, many issues that originate from lack of movement and over-exercising are fairly new to society.

Postural alignment – Another type of physical stress that became common due to our changing environment.

Poor alignment can put undesired physical stress on muscles, bones, organs, and soft tissues. Our new living patterns, from our sleeping environment to our work environment, have created a host of relatively new postural alignment issues, which affect our entire bodies. It’s common for people to tie themselves in knots (internally), suffer from short, tight, and adhesive muscles and tendons, and lose natural and healthy states of mobility and stability. When we keep our spine and posture in good alignment, and move our body in natural patterns, gravity helps us maintain a strong and healthy body.

Chemical stress

The human body is a host of many types of chemical reactions, including metabolism, digestion, respiration, and excretion.

On top of that, we’re faced with countless chemicals in both our internal and external environments, such as hormones, vitamins, enzymes, and proteins, that help regulate the human body. A commonly known healthy process of chemical stress occurs when the body uses sunlight to create vitamin D, which regulates hormones like cortisol and melatonin. On the other hand, unhealthy chemical stress occurs as a result of dangerous synthetic chemicals in our water and food systems, including pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers.

Our food systems are stressed out.

Modern living, capitalism, and population growth have created a lot of great benefits, but also made a negative impact on our health. Modern agricultural and food culture practices are so ignorant of our food supplies that the level of toxicity of our natural resources has created niche markets, such as organic, wild, pasture raised, sustainable, regenerative, etc. Our soils are depleted of nutrients, our plants are sprayed with chemicals that deter and kill bugs, and our animals are fed growth hormones and antibiotics, and are being raised in unnatural, stressful environments.

Our water sources have been mistreated, and our hydration protocols are misleading.

Only 66% of the global population has access to water that is safe to drink, and in most cases, that water is also contaminated. Municipal water systems are repositories for millions of tons of chemicals, waste products, fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides from water run-off. On top of those, there are medical drug excretions that are being recycled, which can’t be filtered out of tap water. Then, these toxins find their way into our food supply and bodies.

Although water is so vital for a healthy, fulfilling life, there’s a high likelihood you are dehydrated right now. It’s estimated that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated1. Read more in my article, Water is Life, But Unfortunately You Are Dehydrated Right Now.

Mental stress

The neocortex — the thinking brain — is one of the brain structures that sets homo sapiens apart from other animals.

Humans have much larger neocortex brains than all other animals, enabling rational thoughts, foresights, hindsights, and insights. An example of a healthy dose of mental stress appears when a person exercises their brain. This occurs when you make a plan and follow through with those actions that bring joy and satisfaction, or when you maintain a strong mindset to overcome adversity and become more resilient. Commonly known forms of unhealthy mental stress are worrying (thinking about something over and over again), rushing, multitasking, and being overwhelmed.

Thermal stress

The human body’s homeostasis temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C).

Colder or warmer environments put the body under thermal stress, and it’s the thermoregulatory system that keeps us alive by maintaining a constant internal temperature.

The reason many professional athletes bundle up when they move from the court to the bench is because swings in body temperature expend precious life-force energy that could otherwise be used toward their game.

Although extreme hot and cold temperatures can instantly kill a person (like volcanic lava or north pole winds), thermal conditioning offers great benefits. For example, a safe and balanced use of saunas, cold showers, and ice baths can reduce inflammation, increase metabolism, improve sleep, strengthen immune system, and promote anti-aging and healing reactions in the body.

A mind-blowing study found that one hour of cold-water immersion at 57°F (14°C) increases norepinephrine by 530% and dopamine by 250%!2

Electromagnetic stress

You are an electromagnetic being.

Although the human eye can’t detect it, human beings are electromagnetic fields that interact with other electromagnetic fields, such as the sun, Earth, and even electronic devices. The sun has been providing us with organic electromagnetic fields for millions of years, providing the necessary life-force energy. Of course, too much sunlight can result in sunburn, and sun gazing at the wrong time of the day can damage eyesight.

Unfortunately, the electronic devices we use to communicate, learn, and create — including computers, cell phones, microwaves, and TVs — emit extremely low frequency (ELF) pollution. Those forms of electromagnetic stress can cause dysfunctions in the hormonal and autonomic nervous systems, and lead to cancer: “Wireless radiation is a Class 2B “possible” carcinogen, but leading scientists argue it should be re-classified as a Class 1 “definite” carcinogen next to Tobacco and Asbestos.”3

1 Anand, Preetha, et al. “Cancer Is a Preventable Disease That Requires Major Lifestyle Changes.” Pharmaceutical Research, Springer US, Sept. 2008, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515569/.
2 Ericson, John. ”75% of Americans May Suffer From Chronic Dehydration, According to Doctors.” Medical Daily. Medical Daily, 03 Jul 2013. Web. 15 Nov 2013. http://www.medicaldaily.com/75-americans-may-suffer-chronic-dehydration-according-doctors-247393
3 Šrámek, P., Šimečková, M., Janský, L. et al. Human physiological responses to immersion into water of different temperatures. Eur J Appl Physiol 81, 436–442 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004210050065
4 Miller, Anthony B., et al. “Cancer Epidemiology Update, Following the 2011 IARC Evaluation of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields (Monograph 102).” Environmental Research, Academic Press, 6 Sept. 2018, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0013935118303475#!
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