Find out how stress affects us and what we can do about it.
Stress..its such a part of this fast-paced busy life, we seek out busyness, we love the adrenalin rush of it all, but at what cost is it truly...?
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For many of us we don't even register that we are stressed anymore, our adrenal glands are just hanging in there, barely functioning...but it is ok, cos we have coffee.
What is stress?
Stress is that sick feeling in your gut, the butterflies, that waking up after a full 8-10 hours feeling utterly exhausted, that lack of appetite, staying up late and waking up early with more energy to burn type adrenal stress.
When we were cavemen and women, we experienced a stressful situation and would create a physical response in our bodies. When we saw a threat our pupils dilated to help us see clearer, the blood rushed to our limbs and skeletal muscles to help us be able to flee or fight, our heart beats faster to pump the blood to our extremities and our digestive system shut down as it wasn't as important as keeping alive.
Whilst this was great at the time, as we fought the threat, made it dinner, or we would flee, today we don't have quite the same response.
Fast forward to 2019 and we are stressed by deadlines, mean bosses, not having enough money, working late, relationship woes, and technology. These aren't easy to escape. We don't physically fight or flee from these stresses and that has an impact.
We spoke about what happens physiologically when we were cave men and women and what we did when we fought and fled. But what happens now is our adrenals hold us up. We stay stressed, the deadline is always in the back of your mind, even when you sleep. So you wake up in the middle of the night as your subconscious tries to solve all your troubles for you.
This affects how you detoxify, as you do this overnight, and causes cortisol imbalance. You wake up tired and even more stressed as you aren't on your 'A game' so you reach for our very bestest friend COFFEE. She loves us no matter what, she bathes us in her dark rich love and makes us feel human again. But she is a stimulant, she is very acidic, and she is also a diuretic and that can cause even more problems.
This seems so depressing and frankly is probably stressing you even more. But we can make changes for the better. Here are a few ways:
1. Exercise: a physiological response to the stress can be a quick walk round the block, a 30 minute boxing session or some deep yoga stretches. This is a physiological way of ending a stress response.
2. Meditation: this seems very counterintuitive, you are already are lacking in time, so taking out more time to do this seems ridiculous. But visualising the stresses float away, taking time to focus inwardly and clear your mind can help lower stress responses. There are many specific meditations you can choose for whatever woes you are currently experiencing. Pro tip: my favourites are the ones that use swearing as a release. I find it very therapeutic and quite fun as it is not a way of communication I typically use.
3. Switch off periods: now this is super hard for our newer generations. Technology is a much loved , sacred extension of our hands. But the blue light used to light our phones, TV's and computers is actually stimulating the pituitary which activates another cortisol release, keeping you awake far later than what is healthy and affecting detoxification. This can be stress inducing, especially when it is 1am and you have to get up for work at 6 but you just fell into the facebook stalker abyss and you're 10 friends of friends deep and just captivated by it all, but desperate for sleep. So switching off 1 hour before bed (around 9-9.30), leaving your phone in another room, keeping lights low and music to quiet and calm tunes, no laptop or facebook stalking, just practice breathing techniques or reading a book in low light. Practice this for a few weeks and see how much deeper and better quality your sleep becomes. You wake up naturally feeling energetic as your adrenals got some rest and your body won't be under a multitude of stressors.
4. Make a list, check it twice: write it down, all those worries, plans, activities, work due dates. Get them out of that head and on a piece of paper, in your diary, in the calendar on your phone, just out. This is something that I was guilty of. Someone told me 'stop using your head as a computer!' and it was true. I had so much swirling round in my head, causing stress and making me feel like I was not getting anywhere. I would wake up in the middle of the night as I would remember something else I was suppose to do the day before that I didn't get done. Now it gets written down in a daily task list, and marked with a big tick once it is done.
5. Keep some balance: do the mahi, get the treats. This means you work hard, so you have fun. This could be out in nature on a hike, in the garden planting flowers or food or just hanging out with your family playing board games. Whatever brings your joy should be a part of your daily life. It all comes down to balance. It is what our body loves to do, and naturally does. It is also how you should be in your own lives. If work is stressful and daunting then you need to find the joy, Life is short, so don't spend it stressing about everything in your world.
6. Change your mind: this is the last thing I think helps restructure the stress in your life. It is by far the hardest, but it is life changing; in my opinion. Change how you perceive stress. If you have no control over it, then don't stress over it. Let go what doesn't serve you, or let it be dragged behind you wherever you go. I was always termed a 'worrier', now I consider myself a 'warrior'. I trust in myself and the abilities I have in my life. I put out in the world what I would like to receive. So if I don't want more stresses and I don't want to be burdened by the stresses in life, I choose to see the accomplishments. I acknowledge that something bad may have happened in order to teach, but I will not worry about bad things that MAY happen.
See how you go with this, as humans we find it hard to change habits, and we criticise any failures we make. But we are strong, YOU are a warrior, and you can help kick stresses butt