The irony about stress is that in our evolutionary development it helped to keep us alive as our “fight or flight” response. Today, however, it is a major contributing factor to what is killing us. The reason: stress has become chronic.
When your body is constantly presented with stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine, your body is subject to be taxed into disease. Chronic stress is linked to a slew of health problems such as heart disease, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, memory impairment, depression, chronic headaches, arthritis and worsening of skin conditions. The stress that we feel in our body is a physiological response.
On a day-to-day basis we feel stress through physiological responses such as cold hands, sweaty palms, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, anxiety, loss of sleep, nightmares, over/under-eating. We adapt to our surroundings so well, that we may not notice the constant signaling our body is giving us to do things differently. Are you aware and connected to the signs your body is telling you?
First step: Become aware.
Start by asking yourself these 3 questions.
Grab a piece of paper and start writing down your responses to develop your awareness.
1. What are the stressors in your life?
a. Good Stress: Getting married, a new job, a new baby, new house, retirement etc.
b. Bad Stress: We all know what those are – anything that makes you uncomfortable.
2. How do you currently deal with those stressors?
a. Are they working for you or against you?
i. Eating, wine, yelling, yoga, massage
3. Is there room for change? How can you deal with those stressors in a more healthful way?
a. Think of a positive way that you can deal with your stressors.
i. Find a quiet space to regain clarity, go hiking, surf, exercise, call a friend and create a plan of attack.
Great ways to reduce stress are right at your fingertips.
a. Exercise – 1 hour of vigorous exercise can alleviate your stress for the hour and much longer.
b. Healthy Eating – Putting proper nutrients in your body will give you the energy, attention and focus to deal with your stressors.
c. Meditation – Busy minds need to unwind. Make some time in your day to sit in a quiet space. Sometimes just finding peace and quiet can help bring clarity to your life and stressors.
d. Being Proactive – Now that you are aware of your stressors, develop a plan to get through, or around your stress. How will you manage the effect your stressors have on your mind and on your body?
Remember you are ultimately in charge of how you respond or react to your stressors! Take charge of those stressors before they take charge of you!