Do you constantly worry about weight gain, hair loss, promotion, finances, buying a new home, work pressures, relationships? These create stress in some people, the bad kind – the kind that makes you breakout in pimples, puts weight in your mid-section, makes you angry and also depressed about the state of affairs!
Did you know that the reason for the bad stress is not the ‘troubles’ in your life BUT how you chose to respond to these things?!
The moment you get worked up about anything, your distressed emotional response sends a signal to your primitive brain that it is facing danger!
The primitive wiring of your brain signals releases batch of hormones including adrenaline and cortisol which make your heart beat faster and blood pressure rise to furnish you with extra strength and speed. Your body is in a state of emergency because of your emotional reaction to a situation.
One would think that the pressures of daily life from morning to evening would readjust your brain’s response and it would lower its defences and chill a bit. Sadly though the hard wiring done in the brain over millions of years, overrides rational thought every time. Every time.
Your body is in a perpetual state of emergency and also suffers for it.
How stress results in weight gain and other bad things
Adrenal is an appetite suppressant. But once its effect wears off from your system, cortisol kicks in which creates a hunger state so that your body can replenish its sources. This was fine millennia’s back when our ancestors were being chased by wild animals and so their bodies needed to restock their fat and glucose supply.
However in our times, working long hours to meet a deadline or worrying about your bills does not require a full blown party after. The unmindful munching at your desk or eating a full bar of chocolate are all danger signs.
To make things worse the body also decides to store an extra reserve of ‘visceral fat’ deep in our bellies. And if this was not enough, it also slows down your metabolism. These tricks were helpful when food was scarce and our ancestors faced real life threatening situations.
In our times, it does nothing but create chronic problems for us.
Over time, Adrenaline and Cortisol lower the strength of your immune system. Other long term affects of stress include –
- Back pain,
- Weight gain,
- Irritable bowel syndrome,
- Chronic headaches,
You know the rage you feel when someone cuts you off on the road – that’s how pent up your mental resources are!
Besides the physical trauma of stress that your body goes through, its emotional state is also fried.
Rational thought and decision making is impaired. Do you want to be driving, conducting business or even making meal choices in this state? The result is going to be anything but disastrous.
It is time to slow down…
It is time to alter your emotional response to your everyday challenges so that it does not spiral into stress.
Sit in a quiet room and write down all the ‘pains’ in your life. Write down all the situations which you feel are not under your control.
Now decide how to deal with them. Do you want to do something about it OR learn to live with it. ACTION or ACCEPTANCE.
For instance, if you have a long commute to your workplace, do you want to take the ACTION of moving houses, transfer offices or change jobs, etc. Either that or do you want to ACCEPT the long commute and use the time to listen to your favourite music, listen to audio books, consider car pooling, etc.
This step is time consuming but once you are through, you will feel liberated. Form your action plan and follow through. Whatever your situation might be, YOU ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE and THAT is a powerful thing.
Another thing you can do is PRACTICE MINDFULNESS, i.e. be aware of your emotions through the day. If there is something causing you irritation or anger or helplessness – make a note of the situation. Take 15 minutes before you sleep to understand the reason of your reaction and what you can do to deal with the situation without stressing out.
There are other ways to deal with stress, but the above two are most practical and you will see yourself becoming calmer with time.