by Steve Bolia and Rob Dorgan
Stress: we carry it with us like that favorite blanket we had when we were kids. It can be so much a part of our lives that we forget what it feels like to not be burdened by the stress. Upon waking, our minds begin to build stress through worry: a meeting with a new client, a presentation to our boss and colleagues, dinner with mom and dad – all of this adds to our perceived anxiety level. Then we can add on the stress of managing our way through morning and afternoon traffic: “S**t, I didn’t make that traffic light, now I’m three minutes behind schedule” - “OMG, that a##hole just cut me off” – the list goes on and on.
Our bodies are built to handle stress, by producing a hormone named epinephrine, the “fight or flight hormone”. It’s produced by our adrenal glands which sit atop our kidneys. Epinephrine is, by its nature, a hormone which gives us a boost of energy in order to get away from whatever it is that is causing us stress, like an attack from another person or a wild animal. This hormone is supposed to be released upon the onslaught of danger and then used to get you out of the danger. The problem now is that the body doesn’t recognize the difference between the stress brought on by an attack of a bear and the stress brought on by someone cutting you off in traffic. The body sees stress all the same, so the adrenal glands are in constant production mode overloading our bodies with this hormone.
When stress becomes long-term and is not properly addressed, it can lead to a number of more serious health conditions, including depression, high blood pressure, arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat), skin problems, weight loss or gain, changes in sex drive, heart disease and even heart attacks. This is serious!
So, what can a person do? For beginners, let’s look to pop culture through the year - songs like, “You’ve gotta stop, and smell the Roses,” or “It's getting late, I'm making my way over to my favorite place, I gotta get my body moving, Shake the stress away…”. You have to find an outlet! And that can be dancing, meditation, yoga, working out and even massage – because it helps you tap into your parasympathetic nervous system! Try anything that takes you out of your thinking mind and your stressed filled world and into a state of just being. Begin to see your life as it really is, a wonderful journey filled with joys and challenges. It is your obligation to take care of your body and your mind. Really look at the things that “stress you out." Are they worthy of all the attention? If someone cuts you off in traffic, take your foot off the accelerator and give that person room; prepare yourself for that meeting and then let it go. All the worrying in the world will not make it any better. Breathe deeply and relax – your life depends on it!
Steve and Rob are on the faculty of our first Wellness Camp, June 14-18, 2017.