There are people who take care of their cars better than they take care of their own body. In many ways, your body is similar to a finely tuned car. It doesn’t matter if you feel like a run down taxicab; you are actually designed to be a luxury car.
A car has an idling speed at which it runs when warming up or sitting still, humming along at about 2 mph. When we push down on the gas, the car runs faster and accelerates. Your body is the same way. It also has an idling speed, a rate at which it normally hums along. This can be measured in pulse rate or even blood pressure. At rest, it is easy for homeostasis to keep everything in balance.
However, as soon as you experience stress, your body’s natural response is to flood itself with adrenaline and hormones. Blood pressure goes up, and your heart rate and circulation increase. The body is flooded with extra glucose and fat for instant energy. It’s just like pressing on the accelerator of your car; everything speeds up. The problem is, you’re just sitting still. Nothing is being done to consume this release of hormone and energy.
Before your body has a chance to secrete the hormones needed to clean up this mess and bring you back to your resting rate, you will most likely experience another stressor. Your body may stay in this state of heightened response all day, and sometimes all night.
When you experience stress, your body also shuts off insulin response and immune activity as your body prepares you for “fight or flight”. Unless you break the cycle of chronic stress you’ll find yourself in a state of impaired immunity and glucose control all day long.
Stress as discussed above would be like popping open the hood and cranking up the idle to 60 mph. Your car is now running way too fast for sitting at stoplights or warming up. It’s burning a huge amount of fuel doing nothing, because the idle is set to high. The car, similar to your body in stress response, is expending an inappropriate amount of energy for the activity that is occurring.
It should come as no surprise that both the car and you will experience accelerated aging due to excessive inflammation caused by the accelerated use of energy. Although the human stress response is much more complex than the idling speed of the car, I think the comparison is clear.
The goal is not to completely eliminate stress; that would be impossible. The real solution is to feed your body the proper food it needs to run the process of homeostasis, and have a healthy stress response. This limits the damage and allows your body to conserve energy.