Now, more than ever, we need to learn how to cope with stress and know what are our individual stress cues are.
Scientific evidence is showing that stress fuels some of the biggest health problems of our times, including heart attacks, strokes, Type 2 diabetes, depression, and osteoporosis, as well as autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS) and rheumatoid arthritis.
Of course, we wouldn’t be where we are now, if our early ancestors hadn’t had a well honed stress response system to survive the daily stress from becoming some animal’s dinner.
It was survival of the fittest or smartest that has bought us out of the cave man days.
Stress is not all bad
Our bodies need a certain amount of stress to get going daily, It’s our built-in protection system. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is activated by a fright, also known as the fight or flight or the “stress response” because it helps us deal with stressful situations. The body shuts down all unnecessary systems to enable us to fight or run faster, out of harm’s way. This is fine for short bursts, but most of us can’t manage to stay in this state for extended periods of time.
The other system that complements the SNS is the parasympathetic system (PSNS), this is known as the “rest and digest” or the ‘relaxation response” because it creates a restful state of optimal function for health and healing. When in this state, our heart rate and breathing slows, allowing our body to rejuvenate and restore its self.
If we are in constant fight-flight mode, even during our sleep cycle, our bodies don’t have time to wind down and restore because it thinks it’s still under attack. When this is the case, our built in protection system can turn on us and cause disease.
This is a good time to calm our systems with some yoga poses and some slow deep breaths.
Relax with me
Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, can be linked to extra belly fat, (storing for later). Elevated cortisol levels have been linked to increased risk of disease, depression, lowered bone density and memory loss.
Not coping..Try some or all…
- Beat a pillow to release pent up stress
- Take a 15-20 minute nap
- Ask for a hug
- Plan more relaxing and enjoyable past-times
- Breath slowly and with awareness often
- Know it’s OK to feel overwhelmed
- Set boundaries
- Learn new skills, hobbies or interests
- Seek professional help
- (10) Do guided relaxation/imagery
- (11) Lay on the floor, head level for deep relaxation
- (12) Do Restorative yoga to fully relax
- (13) Legs up the wall (my go-to pose)
Have a tribe
One nice aspect of social media is that there is always others going through similar issues that we can reach out to.
Some times a problem shared is a problem solved.