If I’ve grabbed your attention with this diagram*, then please take some time to look at it in detail. It’s a brilliantly simplified way of illustrating how your body is perceiving stressor(s).

The Role of Stress and the HPA Axis in Chronic Disease Management

Broken down into the following categories:

Perceived Stress: How you perceive an event, rather than the event intrinsic capacity to harm you

Circadian Disruptions: Rhythms entrained by the light and dark cycles of day and night 

Glycemic Dysregulation: What we eat, how and when is key for our metabolic health. 

Inflammatory Signals: Acute or chronic inflammation increases cortisol availability within inflamed tissues

What can we do about it?

Create strategies to modify the stress-signals coming from one or more of these categories. This will result in improvement within the stress response system. 

A few changes to your daily choices and habits can make a difference:

  • Managing your emotional support. Reduce or get rid of things that don’t serve you anymore. Add in coping mechanismssuch as mindfulness, meditation, calling a friend
  • Sleep is one of the most important ways to rebuild metabolic reserve. By managing your daytime activities such as having at least 1 hour of no screen time before bed, making sure you get 7-9 hours per night, creating an environment in your bedroom that supports a deep sleep, putting in place coping mechanisms for stressful situations 
  • Maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle by ensuring you get enough physical activity but also enough recovery. Over training can also have a detrimental impact on your metabolic health. 
  • Proactively looking at ways to manage stress in your life 

It’s important to remember that some of these are choices we make on a regular basis and/or habits we have built over the years. Our daily demands have increased, digital engagement is far higher and we are programmed to accept we need to be a certain way to fit in with the ‘norm’ when actually a lot of these changes can be made with self-awareness followed by small, consistent daily adjustments.  

What to do next? Look at this diagram and write down for each section areas which increase stress in your life, then look strategies you can put in place to reduce those stresses. 

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