Stress affects ALL of us at some point, for some of us EVERY day. That's why it's important to understand the effect of stress on the body.
If you're under a lot of stress I urge you to read this. You have to take control, you're health depends on it!
Our nervous system works in two different modes:
1. Parasympathetic (rest and digest)
The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis (balance) in the body. It keeps our body temperature at normal levels, keeps our heart rate and blood pressure down.
2. Sympathetic (fight or flight)
The sympathetic nervous system controls the body's response to a perceived “threat.” This is what throws your body into “fight or flight mode.”
Back in the Paleolithic era, our bodies were put in fight or flight mode only when clear and present danger arose. Being chased by a tiger or bear in the forest didn't happen every day.
Unfortunately, today, our sympathetic nervous system is activated for most, on a daily basis.
Maybe someone cuts you off on the freeway, you argue with someone or you have a stressful deadline. It could be you have a stressful job, an important meeting or you're running late.
Even watching violent movies can turn on your sympathetic nervous system.
So what happens when your body is put into the sympathetic mode?
- Adrenaline is released and your adrenals start pumping cortisol
- your heart rate increases
- blood pressure rises
- you become short of breath
- your muscles constrict and tighten
- the digestive system shuts down
- your neurotransmitters and sex hormones go all over the map
Some people get headaches, body aches or pain, diarrhea, acne, anxiety, ulcers, hernias or inflammation.
It's easy to see that the consistent push into fight or flight mode can have a detrimental effect on our bodies over time. All of this can even lead to things like heart disease and cancer.
So What Can You do to Prevent This?
1. Remove stress from your life
Make a list of your top sources of stress in your life.
It could be your job, a toxic relationship, your schedule, where you live etc. Then make a plan to make a change.
Completely remove the source of stress OR redefine and restructure the source so it no longer causes you stress OR try to find peace with it.
2. Practice Daily Affirmations and Gratitude
How you show up for your day is how your day will go.
If you start the day dreading your job, if you're running late and rushing, or if you're unhappy at home – you'll show up stressed and unhappy at work.
You'll be reactive, you'll be irritated and you will return home at the end of the day stressed, unfulfilled and unhappy.
Alternatively, if you…
- practice affirmations and gratitude in the morning
- nourish your body with nutrient-dense foods
- give yourself plenty of time to get ready in the morning
….you'll show up to work calm, balanced and in a good mood.
You'll be ready to take on the day and everyone in it. You will be more likely to have a positive day and show strength even during stressful times.
3. Do More Deep Breathing and Meditation
If you can control the breath, you can control the mind.
Taking a deep breath is one of the most simple and powerful things you can do to combat daily stress.
When you encounter an obstacle and feel your body going into fight or flight (when you get agitated), close your eyes, take a DEEP SLOW breath.
Breathe in through your nose and release it out through your mouth with a sigh. Do at least 3 rounds of this, bringing your focus inward, focusing on your breath.
Intentional deep breathing will calm the body and the mind and can prevent the activation of your sympathetic nervous system.Tweet
In order to reduce stress and have balance in our lives, it's so important that we find time to wind down and RELAX!
For me, this is where yoga practice comes in. I practice a very mellow, traditional yoga style that helps calm my mind and my body.
I also try to find some time to connect with nature every day.
For some of you, this might be laying on the couch and watching a movie, taking a bath or cooking. So whatever helps you to relax, wind down and take a break from the grind, DO IT weekly!
Yours in health and happiness,
P.S. Share this with the stressed-out people you know and I love hearing from you in comments below. What helps you manage stress?