We've been discussing living in your purpose for the past few weeks, and while it's been a motivating and encouraging topic I've found that a lot of people have come to me with complaints of feeling stressed about all the tasks and to-dos. The thing is, there's a healthy level of stress and an unhealthy level of stress. Typically, when we're anticipating a goal or accomplishment and we're working towards it, we find ourselves in a hurried excited stress. If we find ourselves in danger, we enter into the "fight or flight" level of stress, where our body responds with chemical balances to help us know how to react to the danger. And lastly, we can feel moments of crippling stress, when something heart wrenching happens, or when we feel we have no control over something. All of these examples evoke stress, and while some are easily avoided or quickly fade, others can cause long term health issues. These are the kinds we need to avoid. Here's how:
One fourth of all prescription drugs sold and prescribed are for stress related symptoms and/or stress alone.
Before we go into the ways we can eliminate or manage our stress levels, it's important to understand why these solutions actually work... it's all science, baby.
When we begin to experience stress our bodies release hormones and chemicals, mainly adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline is a familiar one to us all, we know it kicks in when we're in intense situations, and usually lingers for little bit. We can feel it when we feel danger, or excitement, or even just a good workout. Cortisol is what regulates our immune system and metabolism, also closely related to our hormones. Cortisol helps us maintain our energy levels which typically connects to our level of motivation and drive, one of the bigger factors in the "fight or flight" system. Both adrenaline and cortisol help will secrete when we come face to face with a stressor, help increase our energy, use up our stored sugar and energy, pump up our hearts, until we're able to relieve ourselves from the stress. Now imagine the damage that can happen if we prolong our stress and put our bodies through this ringer constantly. Eventually, we could be looking at diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, and weight issues. This was a huge AHA moment for me, I really began to look at my reaction to life in a more weighted way.
Now we understand what happens with to our bodies when we stress out, we can easily use these tools to manage our stress.
Be An Objective Observer
What on earth does that mean, you ask????? Well, essentially it's being able to look at your life and the things that are happening from the observers perspective. Being able to separate yourself from the moment, allows you time to react appropriately. When you always think the world is doing something to you, or that you're a victim of everything that's happening, it'll feel like a pile of bricks are sitting on your chest. However, if you're able to stop, (insert 60 second rule here), then assess and come up with a plan/solution, you'll find that you're able to still go through it, but minus the extra unnecessary chemical routine. No one is immune to trials and suffering in life, but the key to survival is to know how to deal and manage these struggles with grace and calm.
As mentioned before, perspective is everything. On a bad day you'll only remember or recall the negative things that happened to you, you'll forget that your kids enjoyed every bite of the dinner you cooked, that you made headway in that project you've been stalling on, or that someone told you how good you looked. It's a proven fact that reminding yourself of positive events can negate the negative ones. I have a love for old school paperback planners, and every night I go over the tasks I completed and carry over the ones I didn't; more importantly I make sure to write down one thing that happened that made me happy that day. By doing this daily, I end the day on a high, I regulate my cortisol levels before I lay my head down. I urge you to do this, write down ANYTHING positive that you can remember happened during your day, let that sink in.
Switch Out Bad Habits
Oh did I have to pray and meditate on this one... release yourself from caffeine! Studies have shown that people who drink tea over coffee have shown substantial decrease in stress levels, and adrenaline and cortisol release during stressful situations. It seems like a small change, but over time, these small changes will show big benefits. By decreasing your body's ability to overproduce cortisol, you lighten it's response to stress. Obviously, if there are other habits that you know increase your heart rate, quit them. Find new ones. It may not seem like it now, but in the long run they will affect you.
60 Seconds to Soothe
Ok... this is the holy grail of distressing when you begin to feel all your levels rise. Engaging in proper breathing exercises really releases your tension, slows down your heart rate, forces your chemical balance to regulate, and brings oxygen back into your blood stream.