The real truth about stress
The topic on stress and its consequences seems to be getting bigger and more important in the 21st century than it was before. And that is why I want you to know the truth! Not all stress is a bad bogey man to be feared. Knowing means having the power and control in your own hands. So, let’s see how do we differentiate the good from bad stress, shall we?
What is stress?
Before I begin to reveal the difference to you, I want you to know what actually stress is. What happens when you ask “Mr. knows it all, Google” about it? Here is what comes up:
“Stress refers to many systemic changes that take place within the body as it responds to challenging situations.”
You may ask yourself, what does it mean?
Let’s say, you are in the woods (or in your office), and suddenly a big bear (your boss) comes to your view from behind the bushes (out of his office), walking directly towards you looking very angry. This situation makes you feel uneasy, right? Hence “challenging situation” as the description above refers to. The “systemic changes” are the changes to your bodily systems such as cardiovascular system (faster heartbeat), respiratory system (faster shallow breathing), digestive system (your tummy shrinks and there is no way you could indulge in a large meal at this point), and many more changes to the other systems within your body. Do to see the picture? Can you feel it?
Yes, this exactly is how we experience stress. Now, what are the other times you can experience such responses of our autonomic nervous system? Just to name few, meeting deadlines, being stuck in the traffic, public speaking, crying children – yours or someone else’s, loud neighbours and many more.
So, no wonder that 21st century is known as a “chronic stress” age.
But let’s go back a little. The stress response is there for a reason. Why else would our bodies have this function? You are guessing right, survival is the right answer. When we get into a challenging situation, our body prepares for “fight or flight”. This means that we become alert, our heart is pumping blood fast to bring enough oxygen to our brain and muscles, so we can react fast and strong without increased risk of injury. We also see better for a moment because our pupils are dilated.
Temporarily, short term, this is a good thing. The stress response of our body helps u to perform better when we need it. Stress is welcome and we should see it that way. It is not stress that we should be afraid of, it is the challenging nature of our lifestyles that makes this helpful mechanism our enemy. We are constantly bombarded by challenges these days, that the stress becomes chronic and depletes our adrenal glands. And that has serious consequences on our health and resistance.
Did I just change your perspective here? Read on to see my advice on how to work it right.
Challenge to your body happens on 3 different levels; mental, physical and chemical.
Our perspective is crucial in how we see and understand the world around us. The perceptive filter that we use to make sense of everyday situations makes some of the things that we see or hear become more salient than others. Not every person experiences the same situation in the same way. So, if we have more positive personality, we experience more positive emotions compared to the person who sees the world through negative outlook. If we experience more positive emotions, we tend to have much less of stress responses to everyday situations too.
You may ask yourself, what can I do then to adjust my perceptive filters to get more of the positive attitude to life? Well, you are very lucky to live in the age when information is abundant and many times for free. My advice is to read nonfiction books on the topic or skill that you want to improve. And I happen to know one newly published book written by a psychologist Katarina Gaborova, which is a very good start for you. It provides you with a kind and gentle way to start understanding the world around you a bit differently. This book is just like having your own personal therapist right in your pocket.
Ask yourself, is sitting 8 hours on a chair, inside with artificial lighting, minimal movement and legs crossed a natural way to spend your day? Just from the top of your head, do you think you would feel better if you were walking or running outside and picking berries, swam in the lake, rested on the grass and bathing in the sun shine when you get tired? Yes, you are right again! Hunter-gatherer lifestyle is what our body design is about.
Now, what if you don’t have the luxury to quit your job and have to sit and type on the keyboard 8 hours a day? I say, our body is forgiving and can suck it up for a while. Remember? Temporary stress is fine. As long as you give your body a recuperation time as well. Balance out your physical body. If you spend half a day of being physically inactive, spend the rest of it by being active. Exercising and stretching is one good way to counteract the damage form sedentary job.
Massage is another very good technique to get some of the physical stress banished from your body. Actually, massage works on multiple levels (physical, mental, hormonal and chemical) in terms of counteracting stress damage and restoring balance. So make sure that you include regular massage sessions in your lifestyle. It boosts your stress resistance tremendously! Get in touch with us to get an advice on which treatments are the best suitable for you and what are the discounts that we have for regular users.
This form of body challenge is most likely to be overlooked. Not many people don’t realise that what enters our body in terms of food, pollution, synthetic medication or pathogens can actually cause a stress response. But now that you read about it, it makes sense, right?
The food you eat may be causing your body an overload of certain substances such as sugar, toxins from conservatives and pesticides or chemicals from burned fat. The way you eat can also challenge you with a lack of certain nutrients that your body need for optimal functioning and resistance.
Pollution can come in many forms, in food, water, air. Also, if you are regularly taking medications, this all introduces extra challenge to our body to counteract the toxic insult. Our body is capable to do that to the certain extend, but if the insult is constant and excessive, we may need to think about ways to help a little to keep counteracting the free radical damage.
How can this be done? I advise to have a proper look at what you eat and ask yourself, is there a way to eat more naturally produced food? Can I make my food more often from ingredients? Does my food contain enough fibre (helps to keep your colon clean) and antioxidants (such as vitamin C, E and A)? Do I drink enough fluids in a day? But also, do I move enough per day to burn and sweat out some of the toxins?
And lastly, can I replace some of the medication that I take by natural products such as essential oils or herbs? I am not talking about medication that saves lives, but many times we are too fast to take pain killers or sleeping pills while we could very easily solve the issue with “softer” approach. Do you like to learn how to use essential oils to promote your health? Come to one of our workshops where you can learn many very handy tricks.
I hope you learned today something new and that this information will help you to address your own life choices to lead you to better, happier and healthier lifestyle.
Leave a comment behind to let me know what you think, or what your experience with stress is. Many people find the comments informative and a good extension to the articles. So, don’t keep it just for yourself, share with us.