Stress is a disease of the modern day. While our cave-dwelling ancestors had to deal with stress all the time, their stress was different. Stress, in the early history of humans, served the very important purpose of preserving life. When the stress response kicked it was because of a few specific reasons and the body reacted in ways to stay alive. The fight or flight stress response was effective in protective ourselves from predators and the fat response kept us alive through harsh winters when food was scarce.
But we no longer live in a world where large saber tooth tigers are out to get us or food is in short supply in winter. These days our fears are of meeting deadlines, paying bills, public speaking and being broken up with. And guess what our bodies react in pretty much the same way to this stress as they did to the stress of millions of years ago. But without a quick response or a long cold winter we are left in a stress limbo with heightened stress hormones and nothing to do with them.
When this happens often enough we go into a state of chronic stress which leads to a whole host of problems like insomnia, high blood pressure, weight gain, and a number of other health issues. Dealing with stress in this day and age is not only important for our well-being but could be lifesaving.
Here’s how to deal with stress:
- Exercise: Stress triggers the fight or flight response in our bodies and when we fight or flee the mind perceives the danger as passed and we can relax again. Getting on a treadmill and running for your life is actually a very sound way of combating stress. Any form of physical exercise even a kick boxing or martial arts class helps to reduce stress hormones in the body.
- Meditation: Meditation effectively is calming your mind so that it can communicate with your body. The mind is extremely powerful and with a regular meditation practice you will soon be able to tell your body that there is no reason to be afraid and that you are safe. The calming effects of meditation on the mind and body lower the level of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.
- Yoga: When you combine point one and two you get the obvious choice of doing yoga. Yoga is both physical exercise as well a meditative and has a dual effect on the body. Exercising while practicing having a calm mind lowers stress faster than any of the other two methods on their own.
- Dancing: The great thing about dancing is that it is fun as well as being physically exerting. When you put on some music that you enjoy and dance along you are letting your mind and body know that the threat has passed and it is safe to have some fun. Even if you don’t dance, just listening to music that calms you or cheers you up can be a great stress buster.
- Take a break: Constantly working our minds and bodies is stressful. One of the easiest ways to deal with stress is to give yourself a break. You don’t need to take a month long vacation (although that would be nice), but you could just take the weekend off. Get out of the city for a couple of days, forget about work and other responsibilities and just spend some time in nature. Our natural surroundings are very therapeutic and will dramatically reduce your stress levels.
Don’t let stress wear you out. Follow our five simple tips on dealing with stress and bring your life back into balance.