How To Control Your Stress Before It Controls You
Do you have stress? Of course you do. We all do. It’s unavoidable. Although we can’t escape it, we can manage the impact it has on us.
Stress is an everyday fact of life. It is simply how our bodies react to any change that we must adapt to. However, how violently or calmly we respond is generally a learned behavior and is under our control. That is why some people become seriously ill while others thrive under the same circumstances. The difference is determined by the individual’s interpretation of the stressor not by the stressor itself. In other words, it’s our thoughts about what we are dealing with that determines the impact the situation will have on our lives.
Fight Or Flight Response
Back when our ancestors were cavemen, going out for a bite to eat literally meant venturing out in the wild, hunting down an appetizing-looking piece of meat, killing it, and bringing it home. However, while these brave individuals were out on the prowl, the animals they were stalking were also on the same mission. When our earlier relatives came face to face with the wild beasts, they had two choices: either they would fight off the attacker or they would run for their lives. Immediately a series of changes took place in their bodies readying them for action. Known as the Fight or Flight Response, this is the bodies natural, built-in mechanism for dealing with immediate danger. When the ordeal is over, the body returns to it’s resting state.
Even though we typically don’t find ourselves in those dire circumstances today, when faced with a potential threat, real or imagined, we still respond in the same way as our ancestors did. Our brains stimulate our sympathetic nervous systems to prepare ourselves to deal with whatever we are facing. Our heart rates, breathing rates, blood pressure, muscle tension and metabolism increase. At the same time, our hands and feet become cold as blood is being diverted from our extremities and digestive tract to our larger muscles to help us fight or run. At the same time we experience a sensation of butterflies in our stomachs. Our diaphragms lock. The pupils in our eyes dilate to sharpen our vision and our hearing become more acute. When the perceived threat is over, we can return to normal.
However, for many of us, we ave become It’s only when the stress is continuous, unrelenting and lasting on and on that our bodies react and let us know that enough is enough. Any stress that lasts for longer than one month is considered chronic stress. Chronic, unrelenting stress takes its toll on our bodies. Over time, our physical, emotional and mental can’t take it anymore and damage results. This is burnout. It is real and has serious consequences.