Whoa Man, Chill! It's Good for Your Health!
Whoa man!! Chill! No really! We live in a wound-up, up-tight, stressed out society! People feel pressured to meet deadlines, keep up with all of the family events and games, be here, be there, do this, do that and do it flawlessly. We are constantly hearing negative news, getting caught up in arguments in social media, and trying to do more than we can handle! Frankly we have created a society where no one can meet the standards, at least consistently and it's killing us. A little histrionic? No...it's true. Stress is slowly killing us.
Stress can be positive, fight or flight is a great example. If I'm in danger I want my adrenaline flowing, heart pumping and I want quick action, however most of the time our bodies are staying in this state of emergency, creating chronic stress, which wears us down, quite literally, over time. Studies have shown that stress decreases our telomeres, protective ends to our chromosomes, and when our telomeres are gone so are we (over simplified scientific concept, but the general idea).
Stress signals a serious or reactions to our nervous system, musculoskeletal system, endocrine system, reproductive system, Gastrointestinal system, and respiratory system. Each system pulls out the emergency response system and gets ready to fight off the danger, or perceived danger. Staying in this emergency state causes damage.
Some of the effects of chronic stress:
Decreased immune system
Lack of focus
Increased anger, depression, anxiety, hostility, mood swings...
The list goes on, BUT we can help manage our own stress and calm ourselves. In the Blue Zones, a study by Dan Buettner and National Geographic they found that the groups of people who lived the longest also were very good at managing stress. They were able to "let it go" and so can you.
Here are some ways to help you get started. It might also be a good idea to consider going to a good counselor who can help you let go of things that have been especially hard to let go of.
Laugh - Read a funny story, watch something funny online, remember something that makes you laugh every time
Friendship - take the time to develop relationships with positive people who will provide a safe place for you to express yourself. Don't try to carry the world on your shoulders alone. Talk it out.
Exercise - We all have heard that exercise releases endorphines (feel good hormones) it's true. Exercise also expends pent up energy, plus when we are angry and agitated our bodies release fatty acids thinking we are ready to burn some serious fuel, when it sees that we aren't it can often settle at the heart. Exercise will help this process.
Walk outside - I know, I said exercise, but studies have shown that walking in nature is especially good for helping us to de-stress and feel better. So, you know...walk it off.
Turn it off - Take some time each day, especially at the end of the day, to turn off the electric devices, shut down the emails, stop watching the news, just unplug.
Meditation/prayer - In as little time as 60 seconds we can begin to experience the positive benefits of meditation. Creating a routine of meditation can be beneficial not only for stress management, but also pain management and it boosts our immune system. Part of meditation is breathing, slowing down and taking your time to breathe deeply and clear your mind. A good app to help you get started is Headspace. I have a Bellabeat fitness tracker and it has a nice guided meditation section that I use. I'll be honest, at first I thought it was boring and silly, but now I can't imagine not meditating, I feel like a different person than I did before. It takes time and practice, be patient with yourself.
Yoga and stretching - A great yoga pose to help you de-stress is Viparita Karani, or legs up the wall. Yoga is a great blend of meditation, stretching (poses), and breathing. Yoga has been proven to help reduce blood pressure, help with stress, and build our immune system. Stretching can help release muscle tension, clear our minds, and relax.
There are many other ways to take the stress off, I like to sit down and do some watercolor. What do you like to do? What helps you chill man?
This month's Yielding Action Newsletter has more to say about Stress - Don't Worry, Be Happy.
I received my Master Health Coach Certification from the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, founded by world-renowned physician and author, Dr. William Sears. The Institute is a leader in science-based health and wellness education that focuses on the four pillars of health; Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition (L.E.A.N.). A certification by the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute is obtained only after completing the extensive course work and meeting all requirements. Once certified, a Health Coach possesses the knowledge, tools and resources to make a positive difference in the health of others.
My Husband Van, an Environmental Geologist, and I are also Independent Shaklee Distributors and enjoy helping people and the environment. We believe the like Shaklee does that the home should be the safest place you go, and we help you create that safe place.