Being in the mental health field, I’ve always known stress is harmful. I even mentioned it in my last post, referring to it as "the enemy." Yet the past few days I’ve continued my research on this topic and was reminded of the unhelpful effects of prolonged stress. Reducing stress is a major part of my personal journey to simplify my life, so the facts I was reading were rather alarming. I’m going to include a few quotes related to stress that stood out to me:
“Lack of coherence (allowing stress to take over) affects our vision, listening ability, reaction time, mental clarity, feeling states, and sensitivity. Not only is our overall functioning impaired by incoherence, but that state robs us of a sense of real satisfaction. Even if we do something that we usually find fulfilling, we can feel only a limited portion of that fulfillment when our system is misfiring and out of sync.”
“No matter where we live, it’s easy to find complaining, unhappy people who are quick to notice what’s wrong with life instead of finding things to appreciate.”
“Stress is the body and mind’s response to any pressure that disrupts their normal balance. It occurs when our perceptions of events don’t meet our expectations and we don’t manage our reaction to the disappointment. Stress- that unmanaged reaction- expresses itself as resistance, tension, strain, or frustration, throwing off our physical and psychological equilibrium and keeping us out of sync. If our equilibrium is disturbed for long, the stress becomes disabling. We fade from overload, feel emotionally shut down, and eventually get sick.”
On a "sciency" level, we are talking about adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline that gets released into the bloodstream raises blood pressure, quickens breathing, and tightens muscles. When cortisol is at a higher level for a longer period of time it weakens the immune system, increases chances of osteoporosis, increases fat accumulation, and impairs memory/learning.
Do I have you shaking in your boots? Really, my goal is not to be a bearer of bad news. I think we all know that stress stinks. I don’t think I’ve ever had a client come to me and say, “I’m stressed…I love it.” That’s crazy talk. So now that I have you all worried thinking you’re going to instantly gain 10 pounds just from reading this post, there’s good news. Here’s the good news:
-Stress is a matter of perception. We can reduce stress just by shifting our outlook on a situation.
-Stress doesn’t “just happen.” We have a choice. First, we choose our viewpoint (just mentioned above), but we also change the nuts and bolts going on around us. We choose how busy we want our schedule, how we spend our money, who we want in our circle. And even if you feel like sometimes emotions just take over, we choose those. We choose our thoughts, too. This is an invitation to become more mindful of all the choice we have.
-The hope here is that when we better create coherence between the head and heart, choose to give ourselves a break and experience emotions such as appreciate, care, love…that we can make better decisions moving forward. Rather than be reactive to our emotions, or allow the dictator-like mind to control the show, we get the train back on the track to take a peaceful ride through the countryside.
Who doesn’t want to take a train ride through the countryside? That’s what we’re about to do. Stick with me and I’ll mention a bit more on how we can do that in the posts to come. In case you’re curious, the current book I’m reading to get all this fun information is “The Heartmath Solution.” Sit back, relax, and get ready for a breath of fresh air as we journey through to countryside :) Happy rooting, everyone!