Remember when life was easy going and stress free? Nah me either, to be honest I cannot remember the last time I was stress or care free. Seems like there is always something to do; pressure to pay bills, make time for family and friends, work long hours or actually have a life! Compare today's lifestyle to 50 years ago and there is little comparison. I have no intention of living like we did back then however, I do feel like our lifestyles were better suited to humans than what it is now.
Stress is a hot topic nowadays and dare I say it but a fashionable term with many people. My question is do we really understand stress and what it is doing to us? I often hear, "I'm too busy", "got to meet this deadline" or my favourite, "I have to get this done otherwise..." It's like people are bragging about being so busy they are unable to tend to the most basic of human needs such as moving around, eating real food and resting properly. Facts like: 95% of all disease is caused by stress (National institute of Health 2010) are a clear indication that too much stress is wreaking havoc with our health. Today's world is all about instant gratification. From Monday to Friday there is no room for enjoyment, chilling or heaven forbid relaxing. That is all crammed into 2 days at the end of the week when you're fatigued to hell.
So what is stress?
Stress is the combination of any physical, mental, or emotional factors that causes bodily or mental tension. Stress can come from either internal or external factors which initiates the fight or flight response and this reaction has an effect on both the neurological and endocrinological system.
Before I give stress a bad name, there is actually a need for this function within our bodies. Without it our bodies do not adapt and grow stronger musculoskeletal, psychological and immune system wise. Stress can also help us react to life threatening scenarios by initiating the fight or flight response, this is where a lot of people in a crisis scenario identify themselves as having superhuman like abilities in order to survive. Stress like everything in life has a limit, too much of a good thing will turn bad and a sustained stressful lifestyle is like the human version of kryptonite.
We all react to stress differently and there are a million different examples of what we associate with stress. Pinpointing what makes us stressed is near impossible. This shows how easy it is to fall into the trap, becoming an unsuspected casualty of too much stress and, if not managed correctly, it can have devastating effects. The key to maintaining optimal health is to understand more about stress and ways to help reduce it, because it's not going anywhere. I tend to tell my clients that think of themselves as a vessel and stress as water, if the water is continuously building without removing any of it the vessel eventually gets full, spills over and creates a mess everywhere. Now think of the spillage as depression, inflammation, heart attacks, mental breakdowns, diabetes etc. We all know someone currently suffering from illness and I guarantee the primary cause is .... stress. Follow my next blog which will be about Adrenal fatigue, the aftermath of a sustained stressful lifestyle and how to combat it.