Do you know what the three main reasons for disease are? Toxins, bad food and stress. We could include most of the major health ailments into these three categories.
Today I would like to add some light to the stress category. The overall idea is that we are running around with too much stress in our lives. Some kind of stress is necessary to help achieve our goals but the problem is when this stress response becomes chronic. The first thing to do is to increase the likelihood of Relaxation Response. Why is this? Because both the stress response and relaxation response cannot co-exist at the same time.
But before offering some suggestions to activate the Relaxation Response let’s see how our Nervous System works: we have two Nervous System modes: the Sympathetic and the Parasympathetic one. They are both necessary and have different roles:
• Fight-or-Flight Increased focus and alertness
• Increased metabolic activities to prepare body for emergency activity
• Designed to be short-term exceptions for survival
• Relaxed external muscles. Increased digestive activities to store energy for future use
• Designed to be our primary state
Most organs in the body have receptors to receive impulses from both modes (either inhibitory to “stop work” or stimulatory to “work harder”). The problem is when we run all day long in Sympathetic mode.
So, here are some suggestions to activate the Relaxation Response and activate the Parasympathetic mode more often:
• Deep breathing. Techniques such as the 4-7-8 work marvels!
• Meditation: even if it is 10min a day, that works! The amount of research in this field demonstrating the benefits of meditation for both body and mind health are phenomenal.
• Focus on the NOW. This is Mindfulness, being in the present moment. What counts is the NOW. Work in the past, work in the future…if you need to, but return as soon as you can to the present. Give it a try, it applies to all day to day activities.
• Stop trying to be always right. People fight, stress themselves out, make themselves and those around them miserable with their ego’s with their need to be right. It cuts life short and destroys relationships, businesses, and nations. Nothing is more deadly to happiness than the pursuit of being seen as right. For personal proof of this, consider the people you know who are most insistent on their politics, their patterns, their viewpoint, their way… they tend to judge the most, insult the most, complain the most, and suffer the most. They reek of misery. This is often also reflected in their physical health.
• Stop worrying. Going over the same thing over and over again isn’t going to solve anything. This is also called rumination. Our minds need a break. Talk back to your thoughts, they are not always right! Ask yourself: is this true? Is this really really true? How does this thinking making me feel? What if I thought this instead?
• Express Gratitude: Say “thank you” more often. Also, every night, think about 3 things you are grateful for that day, but be very very specific. These exercises get the right juices flowing through your body… and are a great de-stressor.
• Take a bath. The easiest way to unplug, relax, be in the moment and stop worrying.
• Exercise: releasing endorphins, eliminating toxins, increasing your resilience to fight stress…these are just some of the benefits of exercise. Try whatever you like the most and just do it! Ideally 150min of cardio activity a week (although some people need more and more intensity) plus some strength sessions. The point is, we need intensity, aerobic exercise, strength and fun.
• Plan in advance and be organized: sometimes we just need to foresee things a little bit better. This is what I mean by “working in the future and then return to the present asap”. YES, we can live in the future, to plan, to organize, to be prepared and then return to your NOW to make it happen!
• Stop cramping everything: why do we think that we have unlimited time? We don’t! Sometimes less is more. Do less whenever you can, postpone plans if you have to, say NO at time!
I hope this blog encourages you to take Stress seriously. YES, it is a problem, one of the biggest ones. So take action NOW to navigate through life in a more relaxed and graceful way.
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