Your body can adapt to stress quite nicely, yet there are times when the body goes into a “flight or fight” response when stress occurs.
Imagine you are hiking through the words and suddenly you see a bear! Here are the changes that occur in your physical body as it prepares to fight or flee from the bear:
Your blood is redirected from your extremities (giving you cold hands and feet), from your face (creating a pale look) and from your digestive system to the large muscles to help you run or fight. Your pupils enlarge to help you see better and your hearing becomes sharper. Your breathing and heart rate increase, and your blood pressure rises. The adrenal glands secrete adrenalin and other hormones to create a heightened state of arousal. Glucose and oxygen are increased to the heart, brain and skeletal system for more energy.
Once the brain perceives that the threat is over, the body reverses this reaction to return to a more calm state. Blood goes back to the extremities and digestive system; heart rate, breathing and blood pressure go back to normal, etc.
Of course, this bear in the woods situation is not a regular occurrence here in Ventura, California! However, we humans may experience mini stress responses like this on a chronic basis. This consistent physical reaction can lead to health problems such as heart disease, heart attacks, insomnia, high blood pressure, low energy, anxiety, weight loss or gain, and depression. Experts say that chronic stress can affect the immune system, which can lead to frequent colds and flu.
The body reacts just like the extreme physical response described above,but on a lesser scale when continual stress is experienced. These consistent mini-reactions can wear the body down and take years off our lives. In my practice as a holistic chiropractor, I see patients whose lives are being chipped away by chronic stress.
What can we do about the little annoyances of life that haunt us every day? Deep relaxation exercises can save us from the turmoil of stress. There are many relaxation techniques that you can do on a daily basis to help you lead a more stress-free life. I suggest you search the Internet or purchase a book or DVD on relaxation techniques, find something that feels good to you and do it regularly.
Breathing techniques work wonders. They can slow the brain waves down and help you think more clearly. Many people breathe too shallowly into their lungs. Practicing abdominal breathing encourages better oxygenation of the body. One breathing technique I do regularly is the following:
Lie or sit down and put your hands on your abdomen. Breathe in deeply and feel your abdomen rise. If you feel your chest rise instead, breathe in more deeply until you feel your hands rise on your abdomen. Once you have achieved this pattern, do a few minutes of abdominal breathing. Breathe in SLOWLY through your nose for the count of four. Hold your breath for the count of four and then breathe out through pursed lips (as if you are going to whistle) SLOWLY for the count of six.
Do this for five to ten minutes twice a day. This will definitely relax you!
There are many other relaxation techniques you can try such as meditation, progressive relaxation, imagery, etc. Exercise is a great stress reliever and is a must! Exercise produces endorphins, a source of pleasure. It can help to lower blood pressure as well.
Watch your self-talk. This is the talk that goes on in your mind all day long. Be more understanding and forgiving of the little irritations or people who frustrate you. They may have just had a fight with their spouse or heard some bad news and are struggling with their emotions. Be positive and stop any negative thoughts in their tracks.
Get out with friends so you have balance in your life. Laugh, laugh, laugh. Watch funny videos. Laughter is great for your health!
Talk out or write down things that bother you, don’t keep them bottled up inside. Stress can kill, so if you feel like you just can’t cope, please seek medical help!
Enjoy life, as it is too short to get ourselves all tangled up in anger and frustration. Practice relaxation methods and you will see a huge difference in your life. Be happy!