STRESS: How Much is Too Much?
Your boss has been hounding you because you missed a deadline, the kids won’t stop screaming, and to top it off you just got a flat tire on your commute home. You’re seriously stressed out! Does this scenario sound familiar?
Stress has become a constant presence in our minds and bodies. How deeply stress has infiltrated our lives is evident when you consider imagining yourself standing eyeball to eyeball with a giant tiger. Psychology tells us that in life-and death moments like these, the body prepares for a “fight or flight” response. In just about thirty seconds of panic, look what happens to your body. Your palms tingle. Your hair stands on end. You start to sweat. Your eyes dilate. Your heartbeat quickens. Your blood pressure rises. Your stomach turns, and digestion switches off. The blood drains from your face. Your body releases dozens of emergency chemicals to deal with the situation. Now imagine something even more frightening. Imagine your mind trapped in this situation for a whole waking day. Hour after hour, day after day, year after year throughout your lifetime. The “fight or flight” reaction developed as a sudden response to a life-threatening situation, not a constant state of mind and body. But unfortunately, that is just what is happening in today’s society.When stress starts interfering with your ability to live a normal life for an extended period of time, it becomes dangerous to your health. The longer the stress lasts, the worse it becomes. You might feel fatigued, unable to concentrate or irritable for no good reason. Chronic stress causes wear and tear on your body, too. This is evident in physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. The overeating, smoking, drinking and other bad habits people use to cope with stress only makes the problem worse.Can there be life without stress? The simple answer is “no”. Being alive requires a balance of stressors in the body. This balance is called homeostasis. Our body is in a constant state of creation and destruction, with formation of new cells and removal of dead cells. How we interpret our life within our body and our environment is important. We need stress to live but not all day every day.Everyone can and should carefully examine their lives and make an honest attempt to reduce the stress producing circumstances that make unnecessary demands upon them. Determine which things you can do something about and concentrate your time and energy on them rather than on things you cannot control. We need to emphasize wellness, relaxation, and positive thinking, whatever the circumstance.Don’t Go Hungry. A hungry body leads to all sorts of problems: disturbed digestion, restless sleep, mental fatigue. Start the day right with a good, hearty breakfast! Work Toward a Good Night’s Sleep. When one gets eight full hours of rest, the body’s natural clock is set in harmony, regulating digestion and allowing the heart and the mind to function at full efficiency. One good indication that you and your family are getting the full quota of rest: you should feel hungry enough to want a good breakfast.