Does Stress Run Over and Ruin You? Learn to Mitigate That TODAY!
Did you know that the word STRESSED is Desserts, spelled backwards?
Which is interesting because, according to Ayurveda, the sweet taste placates fire. It is one of the tastes that helps keep the pitta dosha in balance, and that can be helpful during the hotter months of the year, or any time fiery emotions erupt.
For many, stress fuels the fire. It's a common tendency, when one is stressed, to reach for a sweet treat. Which may add tinder to an already burning fire. Simple carbohydrates - a cookie, a pastry, a glass of wine. Oh, so delicious. Why not enjoy a little treat? I deserve it.
It's often an unconscious thing... maybe it has to do with your inner self wanting some form of comfort. Ingesting carbs, and sweets in particular, is a natural desire during stressful times. Yet doctors might tell you that it's not really good for you. So what can you do instead?
First of all, advice might be given to reduce stress. I'm sure you're aware that uncontrolled exposure to stress, as well as eating lots of desserts, can become problematic over time. By consciously choosing alternatives and learning to naturally counter the negative effects of stress through such activities as meditation, deep breathing, and spending time near or in cool, calm water, it is possible to balance the erupting heat in our body/mind, to rise up and grow stronger as a result of being stressed.
In this article, I'd like to explore how to do this a bit more. So please keep reading.
The term STRESS has been around since the 1920's, when Dr. Hans Selye took the term from physics and applied it to human health and development.
In the case of physics, stress refers to the force applied to matter until it breaks. In the human body, stress refers to our response to a perceived threat (real or imaginary) that may threaten our security or our body's equilibrium. The stimulus may be external or internal; mental, emotional, or physical. Like an object that can be stressed to the point of breaking, over time stress wears down our body/mind. The best way to counter the wear and tear of stress is to rest.
True, not all stress is bad stress. And it is possible to grow from, and even adapt in positive ways to, stress. By understanding what stress is doing to you, you can learn to manage it well and thrive.
Wouldn't you agree that we often grow stronger by positively navigating challenges? For that to happen, it's important that you learn to listen to and honor the signals your body sends. Honor the needs of your body and seek ways to appropriately counter the negative impacts of the stresses of life - be they physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.
As mentioned above, Dr. Hans Selye was one of the first to research the human body's physical response to stress. He coined the term "General Adaptation Syndrome" to describe the three phases we go through as we adapt to stress.
The question that wasn't addressed at the time is ... what happens after exhaustion? Do we break down? Or do we grow stronger? Really, it's up to you!
Many people live their lives in the exhausted state. Consider mothers who continually strive to meet the needs of their children and spouse, even though they're feeling worn out. Students who pull allnighters before an important exam, and do that again, and again, and again, often end up exhausted, and then begin to think of that as the new normal. Those who drive long distances in a short amount of time, or pay little attention to the time they go to bed, or the time they wake up, and live purely by the whims of desire may be running on empty, yet not aware of the toll it's taking.
Does any of this seem familiar to you? Can you remember that last time you took a day off, or a nap? When did you last go on vacation? And even if you have had a recent vacation, were you able to let go and really rest? That can become more difficult the longer we hang around in the exhausted state. Our body/mind begins to think it's natural to have to push through tiredness all day long, only to drop into bed exhausted at the end of the day, and then have trouble sleeping. But there's a different way.
Since Selye's day in the 1920's, scientists and researchers including Harvard based Herbert Benson, MD (The Relaxation Response, 1974 and Beyond the Relaxation Response, 1980), Bruce Lipton, PhD (The Biology of Belief, 2005, The Wisdom of Your Cells, 2006 and more), and Joe Dispenza, DC (Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself 2012, You Are the Placebo, 2014) tell us there's a fourth step in the stress response. It's the one that brings your efforts full circle. The one that allows you to grow stronger, rather than break down in the face of stress. That very important step is REST.
I'm not sure if this concept is the perfect way to describe what's going on with the stress response, but I'll use it anyway. Have you ever engaged in weight training, perhaps with the intention to tone your muscles or prepare for a physical event? The muscles you are working go through this very process (or is it all in the mind?!?) .
First, there's alarm, raising the question of "what's up"? Then there's some resistance: "Why can't we just continue to sit on the couch, binge watch Netflix and eat ice cream?"
But your resolve is strong. And you may be noticing results. If you keep at it, your muscles start to look more toned, more defined. Maybe you've lost a few pounds, too. That's a good thing, right? But what do you do when you start to feel tired, or sore? Like many, I'm sure you like the look, and you're noticing progress, so you continue to weight train. You may even add more weight now. You like the results.
At the same time, if you keep pushing and your muscles or even your whole body feels tired for longer periods of time, it may begin to break down. You may notice that you feel tired more often than you feel strong, vital and alive. But you haven't reached your goal. Some part of you wants to keep going. And the exhaustion sets in.
Exhaustion suppresses the immune system. You become more vulnerable to colds, experience faulty digestion, and even poor sleep, among other things. If you have a natural proclivity to disease, it sets in. No longer are you able to fight off a virus if exposed. Is this the state you want to be in in order to fend of CoVid 19? No. So give yourself permission to rest. It doesn't mean become a couch potato, necessarily. Keep up with health promoting habits, but let yourself off the hook now and then.
Wondering how can you mitigate the stress response and rise up? How can you stay strong, and stay healthy too?
You need to rest. To factor quality down time into each day. Into every week. To embrace the value of rest means you need to let go of the belief that pushing through fatigue will help you achieve your goals.
Pushing through stimulates the flight or fight response in our body (as does breathing through the mouth). The tendency to push through is common in our country, and may be a contributor to the addictive personality.
We like accomplishing things. We learn to be busy. We learn to like being busy. We forget how to rest. It becomes harder and harder to rest.
The stress response triggers a hormonal cascade in the mind/body that can lead to adrenal fatigue. So take a break. Enjoy a bit of ice cream. Play with a puppy. Get out in the garden. Find ways to savor the sweetness of life, regularly, and before it's too late.
Adrenal fatigue is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms including brain fog, general tiredness and lack of energy, a craving for salty and sugary foods, body aches, nervousness, sleep disturbances, fatigue and digestive upset. It results from a prolonged exposure to stress and the excessive secretion of cortisol and other stress related hormones. Which, in time, also raises blood pressure. Gradually, the tiny adrenal organs, which sit atop the kidneys, wear out.
That's the thing. It's not that this happens right away. It doesn't happen overnight. It can take years.
Unfortunately, over time this situation can lead to organ failure, and even an early death. So if you want to live a long and vital life, you'd be wise to work quality rest into your schedule. Daily. A cat nap. A slow walk in nature. A leisurely meal of fresh and wholesome food. Nose breathing. These are the keys to rejuvenating a tired body/mind/hear/soul.
Does this make sense? Do you have questions about how to do this? Reach out! The work I do is designed to help you find balance. To help you grow stronger by moving through - not simply avoiding - stressful experiences, and also incorporating soothing practices that are beneficial, balancing and life promoting.
If you are struggling to remain peppy, positive, and perennially inspired to live your best life, please reach out. Let's work together to develop a wellness protocol that will purposefully counter the stress effect and bring harmony to your life.
Life is short. Do you want to continue to run a short fuse? Miss out on the joy of relationships and the beauty of the world around you? Or do you want to step up, rise up, and make your life better today?
Click here and let's explore what you need.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you've learning something, or would like to contribute more to this article, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you!
Sharon Harvey Alexander, C-IAYT