Have you ever heard of the book Why zebras don’t get ulcers?It is a book that discusses the effect of stress on the human body by evaluating other animals in the world. In essence, there are two nervous reactions which include the “fight or flight” and the “rest and digest" response.
The fight or flight response is brought on by the sympathetic nervous system and that kicks in when we are in physical danger, like being attacked by a lion. Cortisol then rushes into our system and shifts the blood to our muscles so that we are able to run away from danger or fight off the foe. As you can see, this response is normal and is crucial to our survival.
However, the human brain cannot distinguish between true physical danger and mental/emotional stress.The hormone cortisol continues to be pumped out when we get stressed out by work (deadlines/bosses) and life at home.The challenge is that as human beings, we have a tendency to hold onto these emotional stresses. As a result, we have an elevated level of cortisol in our bodies with nowhere to go!
As a result, you are at an increased risk of developing conditions such as anxiety, depression, digestive issues, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems and even, weight gain.
Now it can be much easier to say “hey... relax”, but in reality, it is much tougher.
During times of high stress (that is not physical), I often remind myself to focus on my breathing. In through the nose and out through the mouth. As simple as it may sound, research has shown that breathing is one of the first ways that we will be able to address this stress response.
The technique that I usually go with is called box breathing. It slows your breathing down so that you can focus on oxygenating your tissues and reducing your stress levels.
Next time you are under a lot of stress, try it out!
Let me know how it goes.
*Did you know that exercise and nutrition are two components that can also help you manage stress? If you are interested in hearing how our programs can help you, click on this link to book your free No Sweat Intro.
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