Is stress really bad for you?

In a nutshell stress is tension of which we have both physical and emotional, good and bad. Exercise is a form of good physical stress but emotional stress usually adds bad tension to our body’s.

When we’re stressed (tense) our muscles contract (tighten up) as though we’re flexing a muscle. Imaging flexing a muscle indefinitely for months or years. That would be exhausting and not very good for our body.. Chronic tension causes muscles to become hard and rigid as blood circulation becomes inadequate.

Think of our muscles as a sponge, when the sponge is squeezed all the liquid (blood) is ejected. Left without much fluid the sponge (our muscles) become hard and brittle, much easier to injure.

Good stress

 

And that’s just the beginning, stress causes so much more damage and is responsible for 75 – 90% of all Dr. visits. Everything from the common cold to cancer. And worse we’re teaching our children how to (we) cope with stress, we’re killing them too.

At age eight, children report headaches, sleeplessness and upset stomachs from stress. Learning to manage our stress better really needs to be a top priority.

Interesting tidbits

Stress wasn’t meant to be so harmful it was actually designed to help us thrive.  Stress is natural, it’s an evolutionary process that allowed our ancestors (some of em) to not get eaten by dinosaurs and other wild animals. Allowing us to evolve from prey to predator.

Don’t care if you eat meat or not definitely better on this end. The problem comes from worrying about everything, constantly. Which as mentioned before, for most of us is learned behavior. So the good news is we can unlearn it and learn other healthier habits.

It’s important to remember stress is a choice (I can already feel the tension building up from the people who want to argue that point) but it’s a fact we choose to be stressed, so we can choose not to be.

Is it possible to live without stress? Mindfulness and Meditation

No! But we can control it. Like most things in life the more we practice the better we get. First it helps to create a “vision” of what exactly it is you want out of life. But to put that into motion it’s important to learn mindfulness or “awareness”.

This is where practice and choice come into play. There are plenty of mindfulness exercises but from my knowledge meditation has the most research with proven positive benefits. Improving well-being, developing resilience and learning to control our behaviors better.

I’ve struggled learning it for about two years before I could honestly say I somewhat get it.  Our thoughts will wonder it’s natural, don’t judge bring it back to focus. Here again are some other techniques.

Since the purpose and evidence say mindfulness is beneficial for health I believe in focusing on ourselves. Personally I choose to focus on my breathing and how the air fills moving throughout my body.

This is the same process for feeling stressed, angry, whatever. Whenever you feel those negative emotions just think of something else. Preferably a happy thought or anything more positive since our minds can’t process two emotions at the same time. Many of us will keep going back to the negative thought but don’t do it, the choice is yours. Trust me gets easier.

Strategy One

Believe in yourselfWe can even learn how to make it work for us instead of against us. Scientific studies into “eustress” or “good stress”, show that perceiving the “stressor” as a challenge we’re confident in overcoming allows us to be successful. Talk about intelligent design.

I think of it like this… I’m good at my profession, if there’s something I don’t know than I will learn it. I want to be competent at everything I do, it’s a core human driver. Meaning we need to feel competent in order to be fulfilled in life.

Since work is a major source of stress I would assume everyone would take this approach. If you’re not confident in your job or profession than how can you become better at it? Unless you’d rather not which again is your choice.

This approach also works in our personal lives. What are you worried about? Handle it. Don’t think you can? Some of us for whatever reason, failed attempts, upbringing etc… don’t feel we have control over our lives.

But like competence, confidence can be learned by achieving small goals which also builds self-efficacy. The “trick” is to learn from our failures. It’s trial and correction not trial and error.

 

Strategy Two

Pay attention to your body next time you feel stress. You’re probably breathing shallow which actually causes more stress and other negative consequences to our body, like less oxygen to your brain.

Don’t need to tell you why that’s a bad thing. Since we have to breath anyways just take deeper breaths. It’s quick, convenient and best of all free.  If you’re interested in how this works you can learn about it here.

Third Strategy

Massage for stress reliefNow if you have some time to get away I highly recommend indulging in some all natural, healthy hedonism. This ones my personal favorite, massage therapy stimulates our sense of touch, making us feel good body and mind.

This is by no means an all inclusive list. There are an abundance of ways to reduce stress. It’s important to find what works for you but please don’t give up after a few attempts. There are very few things in life that we get right the first couple of times. This should be an exciting experiment, discovering what you enjoy.

 

How do you handle stress, do you know a better way? Please comment down below and don’t forget to sign up for our blog for more scientifically proven strategies on improving your health and happiness.

 

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