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  • Writer's pictureChad Arterburn

The Relationship Between Stress & Health

How Stress Is Sabotaging Your Wellbeing

The first thing you think about when someone tells you they're stressed is how to help them, but that's not always the case.

Even more so, stress can be a good thing - it can push us to new heights, bring out our best work and make life more exciting.

Nevertheless, much like any other scenario, the saying “in big quantities, cure can be poison” applies here, too.

And we’ve all experienced and seen it - Too much stress can have negative effects on your health and wellbeing.

The question is - How can we optimally handle stress so that the joy of life can wash over us?

There isn’t one answer to this because stress is a complex problem - sometimes, what we think causes the stress is just a catalyst to the inner conflicts at the core of the problem.

This same complexity of this so common problem is what led us to write this article in the first place, so without further ado, let’s jump right into it!

What’s Stress?

By nature, stress is nothing but a defense mechanism - The so-called “stress response” is triggered when our senses detect danger.

For instance, when our species lived primarily in the wild, this stress response would be triggered when a predator, such as a bear, came up and attacked.

The role of the stress response? To help you get out of danger.

This classical “fight or flight” response leads to the release of stress hormones, which prime the body for survival and nothing else.

Your heart starts pounding.

You can’t stay in one place.

You are completely alert of your environment.

Does this sound familiar…? Yeah. That same stress response gets triggered nowadays too, but not because a bear is trying to kill you, but because:

- Your boss is being a madman

- Your close one is giving you a hard time

- Your assignment is due

- You’re in traffic for hours on end

The list goes on. The point here is that the REAL purpose of the stress response isn’t really fulfilled, for the most part.

Sustained Stress

Yes, it’s true - The modern-day lifestyle inflicts stress upon us all the time in an unnatural manner.

One that isn’t meant to keep us from danger but rather… Get us closer to it.

And the worse thing is that this stress becomes chronic, easily.

As I mentioned - We’ve all experienced that! An unpleasant situation, whether it’s with a relative, your boss, or a co-worker, keeps you lingering with the negative thoughts and emotions for DAYS on end.

Sometimes even months, depending on the situation.

Slowly but surely, you start experiencing mild symptoms of this chronic stress, such as:

- Mental burnout

- Physical exhaustion

- Depression

- Lack of focus

- Etc., etc.

While at first, this may seem like something harmless that exists just on a mental level, but the truth is that when sustained, stress can ruin your physical health, too.

Recovery, Growth & Immunity

One of the lesser known yet critical things about stress is that it hinders your recovery, growth, and immune function.

This is not some woo-woo pseudoscience, but it’s a fact.

As we have mentioned in previous articles, cortisol, the main stress hormone, is so effective at buffering the immune system that it is used during organ transplants!

The goal with this is to inhibit the body’s immune system so that the organ isn’t instantly rejected.

Pair chronic stress with toxic coping mechanisms like drinking and smoking, and you’re on the highway to chronic disease.

Not only that, but when under stress, your heart, brain, and the entire body are working out of harmony - The heart beats fast and irregularly, your cognitive function is all over the place.

All of this puts you at a much greater risk of not only mental burnout but physical manifestations of your stress as well.

Breathe In & Screw It!

Alright, get your screwdriver because it’s time to… Screw it!

Many of us wonder - How can one rid themselves of the burden of chronic stress? The short answer is - It depends.

But for starters, you can accept a couple of things:

1. Stress is automatic

Once the danger is perceived, an automatic pattern of thoughts, emotions, and actions is triggered.

The more you follow along with that path, the more stress increases.

Therefore, you must consciously detach yourself from the pattern, break it and make a conscious choice.

2. Stress Is Addictive

If you try what we said above, you’ll come to find that in the face of stress, you feel almost powerless when trying to make a conscious choice.

This is because the hormones released during stress are powerful and, even more so, quite addictive.

In stressful situations, we bring out all our reactions - Whether it’s yelling, crying, or straight-up overthinking.

We get used to and even addicted to these responses, and when we don’t follow up with them, something feels off.

Keep your ground, though - When the animal in you wants to react, choose to stay rational and respond rather than follow up with the automatic reaction.

3. Your Breath Is Powerful!

Finally, because of a stressful event or situation, we tend to observe a change in breathing patterns.

Depending on the situation, breathing becomes more shallow, more frequent, and it can even stop in some situations.

However, if you get over that stress and come back to a normal state, you’d breathe normally as a result.

So, here’s some food for thought: If you were to breathe as you would when you are calm, during stress, wouldn’t that signal the body it is in a safe, non-stressful environment?

The answer is - Yes if you do it long enough and swipe the thoughts coming in from the automatic patterns caused by stress!

Pro-Tip: When stressed, breathe in and screw it!

Okay, maybe these words are a bit too harsh, but you can learn more about why this is effective in my bonus article below called “Leverage Your Breath!”

Final Thoughts

Breathe in. You’re alright.

This blog post has given you a lot to think about, and we hope it will help inform your decisions for the future.

The next step is action - take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising regularly, and practicing mindfulness meditation so that you can build resilience against stress.

If this sounds like too much work or if anxiety continues to give life meaninglessness, then seek professional support from someone who knows how to guide people through tough times with compassion and understanding.

It's not always easy, but there are solutions out there!

Let me know if I could ever be helpful down the road :)

Best Regards,

Coach Chad

Bonus Material

Leverage Your Breath!

Breathe As If You’re Already There

It's easy to forget that we are all breathing, and without it, life is not possible (Duh!)

But have you ever noticed how your breath changes depending on whether you’re relaxed or under stress?

This is because the body naturally adjusts its breathing patterns as our emotions and states change.

With this in mind, we can say that though cliche, breathing can, in fact, be a very effective way of managing stress levels.

If this sounds interesting to you, keep reading as we unveil more exciting facts about the body that can give you cues as to how exactly you can implement breathing for your best approach to stress management.

Support Your Body

Alright, if you’ve reached this point of the article, odds are you are now paying more attention to your breath.

Perhaps, you are even breathing… Consciously.

Okay, stop right there! You’ll be breathing consciously for some time now until it gets back to the normal, automatic breathing pattern.

What we mean to tell you here is that breathing is the ONLY semi-automatic function of your body that you can control.

That makes sense because when you think about it - You don’t have to do anything in order to keep the following going:

  1. Digestion

  2. Blood pressure

  3. Body temperature regulation

  4. Saliva secretion

  5. … Thinking

That is to say that, for the most part, your body runs on an automatic pattern, regulating everything that it needs to keep you going healthy.

However, one main point to emphasize here is that because we have the gift of consciousness, we often tend to disrupt the body on its way to optimal health by clinging to stressful thoughts.

This is where stress management through breathing comes in!

The Ancient Practices

For centuries, Yogis, shamans, and healers have known that within us lies the infinite potential for internal healing.

And guess what the primary tool for tapping into those internal capabilities of our sacred bodies in those ancient practices is? That’s right - The breath! Breathing helps us tap into the part of our being that can do all the healing for us.

But certainly, our skeptical human nature implies that we wouldn’t trust blindly in such ancient practices nowadays.

We need concrete evidence that says - THIS is the mechanism of work, which is why everything works as it does.

The HeartMath Institute

Luckily, people know this fact about our skeptical human nature, and thanks to curiosity (not the Mars rover), there have been discoveries made in that regard.

More specifically, we’re referring to the discoveries made by the HeartMath Institute.

The Heartmath Institute is a non-profit research and education organization pioneering discoveries about the heart’s intelligence for 30 years.

HeartMath founder Doc Childre was one of the first scientists to demonstrate how the heart sends signals throughout the body, regulating many aspects of human function—physical, emotional, and mental. He also discovered that different emotional states correspond to specific patterns in these signals.

In other words, our hearts have their very own mini-brain (brain-like cells) and language! How cool is that?

The Coherence

One of the main findings of the institute was the intimate connection between the two most vital organs in the body - The brain and the heart.

The mini-brain mentioned above in the heart is a set of sensory neurites (again, brain-like cells) that can think, feel, and remember independently of the brain.

Though independent, however, this so-called “extended neural network” is what enables the brain and the heart to communicate on a deep level.

The institute found that not only does the brain send signals to the heart about how it should operate, but the same is also valid vice-versa! (i.e., the heart also sends signals to the brain)

When the two organs work in harmony, scientists refer to it as “Brain-Heart Coherence.”

In this state, we experience elevated emotions like joy, gratitude, love, compassion, and high levels of intuition, accompanied by the absence of stress (oops, I let that oxymoron slip)

Now, guess what’s a literal shortcut to this state…

Your Breath, My Friend!

The HeartMath institute puts a lot of attention on one thing in specific- You DON’T really need to be a yogi or a monk to tap into these extraordinary states of bliss, gratitude, and calmness.

As a matter of fact, the most ordinary person living a normal life can do this on a day-to-day basis, even in the comfort of their own home (yeah, you don’t need to go on the top of a mountain).

The key here is to use your breath as the means of linking and synchronizing the work of your heart and brain.

Breathe and feel as if you would if you were in a calm environment and your body has no other choice but to obey and become calm, quiet, collected, and harmonized.

The Practice

Luckily for us, the institute didn’t just let this information hang out there to leave us wondering what we should do to achieve such states.

They have also provided us with the exact how-to, which they refer to as Heart-focused Breathing.

This breathing technique is all about placing your attention on the heart area and breathing deeper and slower than you normally would.

Step by step, the process would look a lot like this:

  1. Place your attention on your heart and its work, put your hand on your heart if you need to

  2. Observe it for a little while and focus on the beat of your heart, swipe any intrusive thoughts

  3. When your full attention is on your heart, breathe in slowly through the nose for 5-6 seconds

  4. Then, breathe out slowly through the mouth for the same time, 5-6 seconds

With each exhale, you must relax any parts of your body that are tense and swipe any intrusive thoughts that come to mind.

A key point here is to make your breathing smooth, regular, and unforced - This is a meditative state!

In doing this for as little as 3-5 minutes a day, you will experience amazing benefits related to stress management and overall levels of energy throughout your daily life.

So go ahead, try it! Place some attention on your heart and give it some love! Consciously choose to reduce the noise in your head and focus on the present moment, and you, for yourself, will see the major difference in how you think, act, and feel.


Best Regards,

Coach Chad


My 1 on 1 coaching deals with working on stress and mindset, so let me know if you need help improving any of these areas.

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