Let's face it. When you're stressed, it's not just in your head. The key to handling your stress and your bodies' reaction to stress is self-management. Understand that stress is just a word. Take the time to recognize how you feel when you are "stressed" as well as relaxed.
It's Not Just in Your Mind
Stressed? Just hearing the word can make your body react. Think about it. As you are reading these words, do a quick self-inventory. Notice the rate of your breathing, become aware of the sounds in the room, take a deep inhalation being mindful of what your nose is sensing, slowly close your eyes, and just be. What you just did is an example of how your brain, mind and body work. Sojourner Truth said, "It's the mind that controls the body." Stress begins and ends in the brain.
Acute versus Chronic
Imagine that you just noticed a big, ugly bug crawling next to you. Your stress response would kick in. The stress response begins in your brain. Your brain kicks it up by sending messages to the body. Your body responds by producing cortisol and norepinephrine. You've heard of "fight or flight"? As you are deciding what to do about the bug, your body is in automatic pilot. Blood sugar or glucose gets released into your bloodstream, your blood pressure increases, and your heart starts pumping. This is all good; the acute stress response is working. You make a decision about the bug, and move on. Your body slows back down to normal. Remember, acute stress is not all bad. Sometimes you need a jolt of adrenaline to enhance your awareness, make it through a challenging project or give you the "energy" to make a decision.
Chronic Stress is a different story. Unfortunately, most of us walk around in a state of chronic stress. Our muscles are tight, nerves on "edge" and feel ready to snap. Sound familiar? In a state of Chronic Stress, your brain is constantly firing, giving your body the message to work harder. Being a good body, it tries and tries. Your blood pressure goes up, the heart beats faster, muscles tire, and patience wears thin. Chronic Stress can kill you. It contributes to chronic diseases like Diabetes, Hypertension, Ulcers, Anxiety, and Depression. Your immune system is affected and leaves your more susceptible to colds and the flu.
Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, May 19, 2013
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