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Stress Is Fucking Up Your Physique (And Everything Else) Bruh

by | Apr 6, 2017

Stress, though fairly mainstream an abstraction, is highly misunderstood, and despicably under appreciated by society as a whole: to prove my bold assertion, I will put my money where my mouth is and bet that a huge slice of the readership, when asked for a definition of stress, would myopically equate the state of being ‘stressed’ with the mere experience of a psycho-emotional disturbance in the face of a distressing situation or an unusually high workload.

Ehhhhhh, kinda not really.

Biology defines a stressor as any stimulus that knocks your body out of its natural homeostatic state, and stress, as a biological response to a threat, physical or psychological, that results in a cascade of hormones being deployed into your blood stream to get you to calm the fuck back down. 

So if you’re a natural chubster, dieting down to single digit body fat levels might as well be a bomb threat as far as your body is concerned, and as you continue to get learner and learner,  your body will try to push you harder and harder into eating your way back to your original weight. Thanks evolution, really did me a solid there… Dick…

Likewise, for those of you that are naturally slender, trying to shove bulking macros down your gullet all day everyday can be stressful as shit, especially if you have the appetite of a garden gnome.

Bottom line is that your body doesn’t like change and it will go full UFC on your ass if you try to disrupt the balance in the force; the problem is that everything in our ‘first world’ lives is, by design, messing with our natural biological rhythms:

  • Artificial lights and endless late night entertainment options have jacked up our sleep patterns
  • Millions of personal messages, notifications, likes, emails and texts hijack our attention 24/7
  • Credit card debt, 40 year mortgages and student loans castrate our financial security
  • Unexpected losses and inexplicable tragedies collapse our emotional lungs
  • Toxic relationships syphon our good-will and corrode our better nature
  • Hyper-restrictive diets and reckless amounts of exercise throw our bodies into a hormonal black hole
  • Recurrent physical and/or psychological abuse wreck havoc on our long term emotional health

Stress is a survival mechanism that automatically powers up when we perceive a potential threat creeping up into our personal space, a call to action if you will: good ole evolution built this nifty little spidey sense into our neural mainframes so that we could quickly jump into the fray of battle or take off running like we were the Flash when shit pops off.

You see, when faced with the prospect of being eaten alive, our autonomic nervous system gets fired up and glides into auto-pilot: all energy normally spent on normal, day-to-day biological functions (like I dunno, digestion, cell repair and fat loss) gets rerouted to our cardiovascular system so as to maximize our chances of survival. And on top of that, given that our body’s priorities are seldom in line with our own, the stress response also affects the body in the following ways:

  • Inhibition of gastrointestinal and digestive functions
  • Liberation of metabolic energy stores
  • Increased focus and alertness
  • Auditory exclusion
  • Tunnel vision
  • Increase in blood pressure

Basically, it’s your body’s way of preparing for a fight to the death. Except that instead of lasting anywhere between 2 to 3 minutes as nature intended, our stress response, much like our access to wi-fi, never fully gets shut down, leaving us in a perpetual state of hyper alertness, psychological turmoil and emotional fatigue.

Newsflash: your body can’t differentiate between the threat posed by a charging rhino and the sizzling, gut burning hatred that floods your bloodstream each and every time you sit behind the steering wheel; and if you, like me, have trouble reining in your jaw gnashing rage, perhaps the time has come for the both of us to learn to destress. More on this in next week’s post.

Stress in of itself is not a bad thing; It protects us from danger. But if left unchecked, especially in our modern world of  sex, drugs and unpaid overtime, it can insidiously snake its way into our minds, stealthily nesting within the cool shade of our favorite blind spots, where it silently lays its eggs: once allowed to fester and rot into chronicity, the stress response eventually becomes infinitely more harmful that the stressor itself.

Basically, stress is the new black: if you ain’t stressed (and proudly displaying it on social media) then you’re not cool. Sleeping 8 solid hours a night? Pffft no thanks, I’ll go get hammered all weekend long so I can recover from my 90 hour workweek. Right. Good luck with that…

Let me put it this way: if ‘stressed the fuck out’ is your new default state of being, and you have no coping strategies to fall back on, you are dangerously close to being enveloped by the fire you’re playing with. Chronic stress has been linked to:

  • The severe inhibition of testosterone production and sexual function in males
  • Irregular menstrual cycles and the disruption of female sexual function
  • The suppression of autoimmune functions which could lead to
    • Brain lesions and Alzheimers
    • Accelerated aging
    • Stress induced hypertension
    • Inhibited fat loss, obesity and/or muscular atrophy
    • Diabetes
    • Damage to the dopamine control centre, increasing one’s risk of developing depression
  • Neural atrophy in the regions of the brain responsible for memory, learning, long term planning, emotional regulation and impulse control
  • Growth of the neural pathways responsible for the regulation and management of fear and anxiety, as well as the development of PTSD like symptoms

We have to understand that destressing is not some cute, hipstery trend currently making the rounds in the cool kid circles. It’s vital. As in you risk an early, and frankly, unnecessarily tortuous death if you don’t start taking this shit seriously.

Why? Because our ability to plan for the future gets tossed to the side in favor of the more immediate demands that life places on us. Planning to buy a nice piece of land on which to build a family home, an epic tree house and a three car garage? Kinda hard to do when you’re constantly led astray by all the items on your daily to-do list.

Our hearts struggle and strive to keep afloat in the bloody, violent currents of emotional turmoil, and constantly work in hyperdrive in the (lost) hope of accommodating the demands of our unrelenting routines of eat, work, stress, play, which more often than not, drain us of any and all creative energy that we could have otherwise spent in the pursuit of our dreams. We were never meant to be broke, fat, slothful or emotionally unstable. We were never meant to bend our knees in the face of heart disease and exhaustion.

We were never meant to live a life of servitude to our own biology.

Is it then a wonder that toxic hostility has now become a thing? We live in a world where it has become not only ok, but expected, at least in a great many social situations, for people to act like complete cunts to one another:

  • We snap at the clumsy waiter on his first day of work because he’s not as responsive as per society’s expectations. And why? Because we have a shitty boss?
  • We give into the rage when some entitled ass hat swoops in and steals our parking place. And why? Because we’re socially awkward and sexually frustrated?
  • We lose our complete and total shit when trivial, insignificant delays throw off our all-important schedules. And why? Because we have shitty social skills and struggle to make friends?

You know we’re all full of shit when flight cancellations, traffic jams, impromptu staff meetings and random gym douches curling in the squat rack fuck up our entire day. We’re living in a world where no chill has become the norm. 

We all want to be the big dog in the pack because the big dog is treated with respect and dignity. And they also get priority treatment when it comes to sexy time and food so there’s that… But the crux of the problem is that most people are not the big dog. It’s mighty difficult to climb up the social ladder if one doesn’t know how to appropriately respond to, and cope with psycho-social stress.

This sucks massively because we now have to live in a world full of people dominated by a haunting sense of insecurity/ fear/emotional fatigue/passive aggressive self-righteousness – a molotov cocktail of negativity that renders most of us inept at making sense of our lives, and incapable of architecting our escape from the social stratum to us assigned.

If you don’t learn how to cope with stress, brace yourself for a lifetime of bullying, harassment, intimidation and subtle humiliation. Survival of the fittest motherfucker.

In other words, being all caught up in how shitty your life is makes it hard as fuck to develop the habits needed to climb up and into the next rung on the social ladder. It makes perfect sense if you think about it: there is very little time for self development if we’re constantly burning out trying to put out the fires of distraction that turn all of our deadlines into an incessant stream of micro-emergencies.

When stress levels reach critical mass we barely have enough left in our emotional gas tanks to crawl out of bed in the morning, and you want to sit there and talk to me about self mastery, discipline and living the dream? Bitch please.

Chronic stress is literally killing us: we need to learn to invest in ourselves, emotionally, physically and intellectually. Uncertainty will always be a constant in our lives, and there is only a certain measure of will and control that we can ever hope to exert over our destinies. What we do possess however, every last one of us, is the ability to learn how to better cope with life’s stressors, and in turn, improve our quality of life by leaps and bounds.

Stay tuned for the second part of this article to find out exactly how to overcome chronic stress, depression, anxiety and emotional fatigue so that you can start start work on the plans that life has forced you to file away in the secret compartment in the back of your mind. Get some.

About the author

Daniele Moretti

Daniele Moretti

Head Coach, Managing Director

Wordsmith. Lover of Medieval literature. Heavy metal guitarist. History nerd. Dan mainly works with general population clients and normal folks that want to achieve their personal version of the extraordinary. He enjoys learning about what makes people tick, and to that purpose has decided to pursue a PhD in Business, focusing his research on the psychological imperatives that drive customer behavior – Basically, whether you’re looking to lose a little holiday weight or up your nude game to 12/10, he’s got what it takes to lead to the Promised Land.

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