Stress is alive and well! Stress lives in your interpretation of what happens, not the stress itself. If you can change how you react to stress, then you can change your life.
Stress is a basic primal reaction which dates all the way back to primitive times and the survival of the fittest. Although many of the primary stressors have changed over the eons of time as evolution unfolded - we seldom fear Saber Tooth Tigers now! - our response to stress has not changed much.
The bodies ability to deal with stress evolved from the need to protect ourselves from harm. In the caveman era, when there was a Saber Tooth Tiger chasing Homo Sapiens around, we needed to have the physical strength and stamina to escape. Thus our bodies were hardwired to release stress hormones to help increase energy and endurance.
This stress response mobilized us to be able to deal with physical stress, just as it does today. The trouble is that the body isn't designed to maintain a state of high alert. Over time this heightened state contributes to health problems and decreases overall wellness.
Modern day stress is very different - it's not physical stress that consumes us, but emotional stress and overwork. This stress typically doesn't go away immediately and the stress response that comes with it often lingers contributing to poor health. The stress danger that the cave man faced with the Saber Tooth Tiger was immediate, and immediately resolved in favor of one of the other! The stress danger that we face can be far more difficult to pinpoint and lingers far longer.
It has been proven that stress can be managed and reduced by breathing properly. Before a motivational talk I always do some deep breathing to calm my nervous system and create focus. I once took a stress management workshop where the speaker offered us a simple breathe technique that I still use.
The stress management speaker suggested the simple breathe exercise below:
- Breathe in and hold it for up to 10 seconds. Breathe out (or don't and pass out) slowly.
- You can alter the way you breathe in or out and count down while you slowly breath.