By Janet Early
Working in the corporate world, I interact with people all day long who have come to accept that stress is a normal part of life.
“If you’re not stressed, you’re not working hard enough” is a mentality that runs pervasively throughout American society. And it’s severely flawed.
Stress, in a fundamental sense, is a state in which the body transitions into fight or flight mode. The body has sensed a threat, much like it did for our ancestors when they faced physical predators such as wild animals.
When a threat is sensed, the brain signals the body to pump cortisol and adrenaline into the blood, supplying you with the energy that you need to either run away to safety or to stand up for yourself and fight.
This bodily response is a remarkable feat of human design. But today’s stressors are very different from those faced by our ancestors out in the wilderness.
While our greatest grandmothers and grandfathers had to run away from a tiger once every blue moon, we are constantly being threatened with stressors every single day. This has created an epidemic of flight or fight responses.
What this means for our mental and physical health is that we are constantly being pumped with cortisol and adrenaline, which can make us feel more on edge and anxious on a regular basis.
When our ancestors had to run away from the tiger, the body focused on survival and dismissed any function not critical to survival for the moment. In order to concentrate its resources on speed and strength, the body paid less attention to secondary processes like digestion and detoxification.
This is cool for our ancestors who made it out alive in the wild, but not for us who have to suffer through problematic digestion, sustainable energy levels and sleep.
This is why when you are often under periods of extreme stress, you may experience problems like:
- Diarrhea or stomach upset
- Racing mind
- Trouble sleeping
- Joint pain
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
The body senses a threat and needs to keep you alert and focused in order to survive. It may be 2016, but our bodies are still programmed like they were thousands of years ago – they are built for survival.
How To Reduce Stress And Promote Optimal Health
#1. Recognize That Being Stressed Out All The Time Isn’t OKAY
Just because something is common, it doesn’t mean that it’s okay or that you shouldn’t try to make it better. Those people who tell you that if you’re not stressed you’re not working hard enough? They are lost and misinformed.
Stress-reduction techniques have been linked to higher productivity. If you feel better, you perform better. It’s as simple as that.
#2. Make Stress-Reduction A Focus In Your Daily Life
Here are some stress-reduction techniques to improve your mental and physical health:
- Daily exercise
- Breathing techniques
- Time for yourself
#3. Adapt A More Positive Mindset
Once you employ calming, stress-reduction techniques on a regular basis, your mindset will shift to become calmer and more reflective. Your improved positivity will shine through your daily demeanor. Suddenly you will be better able to inspire people and yourself to reach greater heights. People like being around positivity.
Stress has been identified as a significant factor in developing disease. Chronic stress has been found to diminish the body’s ability to regulate its response to inflammation. Inflammation has a horrible rep as being the root cause of all disease.
If you are supremely stressed, levels of inflammation increase, which can cause an array of problems, from hypertension to heart disease to arthritis. The list of repercussions is ENDLESS.
What are some of your tips for stress-reduction? Please share with us below, we’d love to hear about them and learn from you!
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