Have you ever had one of those days when you are majorly stressed out? Everything you touch falls apart, you’re consumed with deadlines, financial issues and problems that seem impossible to overcome? Well what if I told you that your stress is causing more harm than the actual thing your stressing about!
Long ago, stress was used to help us survive when our lives were being threatened by predators . Today, we are still experiencing the same physical reaction as if our lives were in danger, except now your stressing about your tivo breaking and missing the season finale of Mad Men. See the problem?
In a study conducted by neuroendocrinologist, Robert Maurice Sapolsky, he researched issues of stress and neuronal degeneration in Kenya while studying a population of wild baboons. What he found was that when animals became stressed, everything that was not essential to survival was no longer utilized. The lungs worked overtime to pump oxygen into the bloodstream, the heart beat increased dramatically to pump the oxygen to the muscles and blood pressure rises to deliver the energy throughout the body. As a result, cellular functions such as growth, reproduction, tissue repair, and the immune system all shut down. We as humans are experiencing these same effects on a regular and permanent basis throughout our entire lives.
By constantly experiencing this “fight or flight” response, many neglect to see the link between stress and sickness, causing catastrophic harm to your body and spiritual and mental well being. In particular, stress increases the flow of hormones and damages blood vessels, creating more plaque in the arteries and leads to high blood pressure. Stress also may have something to do with haziness and slow learning. Subsequently, stress and anxiety has the ability to damage brain cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
Stress has also been proven to damage our immune system and intensify symptoms such as headaches, colds, irritable bowel syndrome and even some link stress to cancer. Stress can lead to poor diet habits and also affect your mental state of being.
So what do you do to fight off the big bad monster known as stress? Stop, breathe and give yourself permission to be selfish. Whatever it is that you have to do can wait. By giving yourself that extra moment to take a step back, you’ll find that you’ll have the clarity and calmness to deal with the problem in a more effective and powerful way. Take some precious, selfish time to just be you. Go for a hike, take a yoga class, go for a run, meditate or do whatever makes you feel alive and in your body. I find that being out in nature and feeling the dirt beneath my feat while filling my lungs with fresh air has a truly euphoric effect on my body, mind and spirit. Take delicious time to be with yourself, without fear, judgment or the need to please anyone but yourself.
Lastly, another way to help reduce stress and create a more peaceful and happier world is to have compassion for others. In Robert Maurice Sapolsky’s studies, he discovered that “telomerase” is an enzyme that repairs telomeres that protect our DNA. He found that expressing care and thoughtfulness towards others lead to an increase of telomerase. So next time you feel rage and anxiety burning inside you, remember to take a moment and connect with others. In the words of the Dalai Lama ” kindness is society.” By living from a more compassionate viewpoint, we can create not only a better life for ourselves but for the world.
and Rock’n Roll
Happy Healthy Hippie!