This is an interview with Dr Shami, a GP and an integrative doctor about stress and the effects of stress on the body. I ask her questions from our readers. This is a transcript of the video we made. (Unfortunately I set the video up wrong, so we were all blurry BUT I have transcribed it into an article and you can also listen to the audio too. Maybe it is time for me to hire a cameraman)…
Here is the audio:
Dr Shami, please tell us who you are and what you do.
I’m a general practitioner and more importantly an integrative doctor. I studied at the Imperial College School of Medicine in London, in the UK and, I moved to Melbourne 7 years ago. I also work on weight loss clinics as well.
We are going to be talking about stress today and have some questions from our audience. The first question is:
I Am Stressed. Am I Alone?
Definitely not, the number one reason why patients come to see me is because they have underlying stress and that is the trigger for pretty much most of their illnesses. It could be something as simple as a cough or cold. I will ask my patient, what is going on in their life and the answer will be stress. It may be work stress, family stress, life stress, it is different for all of us. NO you are not on your own, if you are stressed.
A human needs to be heard and listened to. It is all about creating a connection.
I think in today’s world, we are limiting our connection with other human beings because of the internet, because of how crazy life has gotten. We feel the need to do so much and do something all the time, but actually we don’t have to. It also comes down to living your life based on your values.
So when I meet with my patients and I ask what is going on in their life, they feel that struggle between what their parents want them to do, what their partners want them to do, what their children want them to do. Somehow they have forgotten what they want to do that is in line with their true values.
When it comes down to it, life is going so quickly, and we have lost track of where we really want to be.
Sharon says, “I totally agree. We are so busy. We have all heard the saying that we are human beings not human doings. We are all doing, doing, doing and running around like crazy people. I look back through my lifetime at what my parent’s would have done and the stress they would have had, and I realise that they had so much more spare time. The shops were not open on a Sunday, they allowed themselves to rest. Nowadays the weekend for a lot of us is used as the time to catch up on the things we did not get finished during the week. It is a trap many of us are caught up in, which causes stress and disease in the body. For a lot of people it will cause adrenal fatigue and adrenal exhaustion.Cortisol, Adrenalin, Adrenal Glands, DNA. What does this all have to do with #stress? #GHE Click To Tweet
Please Explain What Adrenal Exhaustion Is & What It Is Doing To Our Body On A Chemical Level.
During the stress response, your body is actually saying, “I need to get out of this danger zone”, so it’s going back to prehistoric times. This is what our DNA was meant to do, to protect us, to get us out of this danger zone. Unfortunately 21st century stress is different than running away from a tiger.
It still triggers that same response, we are releasing adrenalin and cortisol. (These are your stress hormones). Adrenalin increases heart rate, causes sweating, and the feelings you are getting when you are feeling stressed.
Cortisol is your stress hormone and it is a killer. It causes havoc in your body. It causes havoc when it is chronic stress, not acute stress. The acute stress helps us get out of a stressful moment. What happens today is we live with chronic stress. That means there is a persistent release of cortisol, from the adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys. Why is that relevant?
Cortisol can affect your gut, your thyroid and there is a cascade of events that happen that make you feel unwell. One of the key things it does is, secretes other hormones that affect the menstrual cycle, and also affect your weight and cause anxiety. This is when the imbalance arises. The key thing to look at with stress is chronic stress, which can lead to chronic fatigue.
Sharon says, “I know may people suffer from lack of sleep because if your cortisol is so high, it messes up your melatonin (sleep hormone). So your whole system gets shocked”.
Dr Shami says, “Yes. What I say to my patients is, everything has shifted and is out of place, what you need to do is treat the underlying factors like stress, to shift it back into place.
Sharon says, “You mentioned a little bit about weight, so how does stress affect your weight”?
Dr Shami says, ”We have been speaking about cortisol and how it is linked to weight gain, through affecting the thyroid. Also, the effects of insulin (another hormone) can affect your weight. This happens during stress, but also with stress we can emotionally overeat. The last thing I want to mention about stress is how it affects your sleep, the time to sleep is essential to bring balance to your body, all our hunger and fullness hormones are regulated between that time of rest.
Studies have shown that if you sleep for less than 6 hours you will gain weight. It is so important, and going back to cortisol and melatonin it is important to sleep before midnight. So important to get between 6 – 7 hours of sleep per night. That is why the holistic approach to weight loss is so important.
Sharon says, “Before you go I would love to ask you for your top tips for reducing stress”.
Top Tips For Reducing Stress
Top Tip 1 – This may come as a shock to many women….. Do Not Multitask.
In society we are so busy and we have become masters of multitasking. We actually compete against other people about how many jobs we are doing at the same time. Science has told us that we can’t multitask. We are literally going from 1 job to the next, in a very short space of time and our brain can’t cope with doing that productively and efficiently.
So we think we are doing it well, but we are not and it causes a high stress level. This means we should just do one task at time. It takes a lot of practice. This stress response is something that we have been doing for years because society feels it’s appropriate. In the workplace we do 3 jobs at a time. A lot of mums at home are cooking dinner, putting the washing in, helping their child with homework. It’s a lot of stress on the mind.
Top Tip 2 – Self Care
I say that because not many people give themselves self-care in the day. Even if it is just 10 minutes each day.
What does that look like? Taking 10 minutes for you. When I speak to mums, rushing around. They actually don’t have time for themselves. When I ask them if they have done any self-care in the week, the mother will say, what is that? We are encouraging just 10 minutes of self-care – or ‘you time’ daily. Give yourself time to sit down, reflect or do something for you and not someone else.
Top Tip 3 – Exercise
Exercise is so important. We are human, we are not supposed to be sitting down all the time. We are meant to be active and walking. Unfortunately, today we spend a lot of time sitting. We wake up in the morning, sit down for breakfast, we sit down in the car, on the way to work. We sit down for 6 or 7 hours at the computer. We come home and we are constantly sitting. So when you add it all up, we might be sitting for 6 to 7 + hours and we are not meant to do that.
So be mindful and ask, how can I be active naturally? So it might be when you go to the shops, park further away. If you have the choice of stairs or escalators, take the stairs. Increase your daily movement. It is not about joining the gym, or getting a personal trainer, it is about being active during the day.
Start with small achievable goals. It might be a 5 minute walk every day. It might be 10 minute walk. That will make you feel so much better and want to do it more.
If you want to find out more about Dr Shamistra Barathan you can here: www.weightlossgame.com