Stress - Get to Know It and Proactively Manage It!
Updated: Jan 19, 2022
(Including 'Stress Free' Practice)
Several studies link high levels of cortisol with a greater factor of covid19 deaths (1&2). Studies also prove that in fact short term stress boosts the immune system, but chronic stress has significant effects of suppressing it. It turns out that this suppression raises the risk of viral infections in the first place! (3)
How? Neurotransmitters, hormones and neuropeptides have been found to regulate our immune cells (4)
In other words our thoughts control our biology! Mind your thoughts!
In this article we will talk about stress as a non necessity that we usually end up opting for (unconsciously of course). That’s right, it is optional! If we only understood the nature of this phenomenon better, we could save ourselves from a lot of suffering.
It is crucial to know how to deal with it, and even when triggered, to use it skillfully and stay energised, but not to be controlled or worse destroyed by it!
What is Stress?
From physics, we know that stress is the internal force acting from within. It appears as a result of external force which acts upon and tries to disturb the equilibrium position. Stress is developed within a body to resist that external force (5).
From our perspective, stress is something we create within the body as a reaction (resistance) to external events which have happened not as we expected them to, and usually we were not ready for.
Could this only be proof that we run our day on autopilot? Could more attention help us to be ready for the unknown? Definitely it would!
Let's first look for an important distinction between internal and external forces as their meaning is muddled in our understanding.
Pressure and Stress
Again from physics perspective, stress is the same as pressure, the difference is the force in pressure is external but the force in stress is internal (5).
In life, pressure (aka stressor) as we perceive it could be our boss, deadlines at work, what's someone says to us, anything which comes from others and the environment around us.
Those things we do not have control over (we certainly do not like that fact) and anything can happen next.
In other words, pressure is the cause, and stress is the effect. For example, we heard bad news and then boom, we got it!
What's important to highlight here is that stress usually comes up in the form of compulsion based on ‘storytelling’ inside the head, which is not necessarily the real thing (more about this later).
But what if stress is not the enemy in the first place?
Learning from Our Biology to Understand that Stress is a Form of Adaptation
As humans, we have built a bodily survival mechanism which is designed to protect us. It triggers certain responses in the body and prepares us to 'fight or flight' in face of real danger.
For example - in the fight for life while being chased by predators, there is no need for us to carry additional weight as this will slow down our ability to move faster. For that reason, body excretes the rest of the food and will not ask for more food either. In the long run, and thanks to flood of cortisol, this will ‘reduce’ your weight and burn your muscles (massive energy consumers) to ensure that all of your energy is channelled for you to survive - now you understand why it is important to have a smile on your face whilst doing prolonged cardio (you do not want to lose that hardly-gained muscle, do you?)
This survival principle is being used on an everyday basis!
It's All in the Mind!
The mind has got the reasoning, the body does not! Our internal world does not know what is out there - the true cause of our actions. The body has no ‘reasoning’ in why you could be on the run, however it will accordingly still trigger a cascade of responses based on a reaction from the mind.
This mechanism is designed to work for a short period of time - to adapt or just to move you away from danger safely.
But that safety system is not designed to stay there too long!
If that stress on your bodily system becomes chronic - it works like a suicidal act for our health and longevity. And studies show it can even impact anything from mental health through cardiovascular to our immune system. All inclusive!