Can't concentrate? Clenching your teeth? Worried that nothing will ever work out right? You've got ? STRESS!.Stress has become the most common malady in the Western world. So common in fact that it is a contributing factor to high blood pressure, depression, breakdown of the immune system, coronary artery disease and more*.How did we get to be such a stressed out society?.Once upon a time stress was a valuable tool for the survival of the species.
You can easily conceive of the pre-verbal necessity for "fight or flight" in what we commonly refer to as the cave-man era.Imagine yourself out on the plains looking for food to bring back to your family ? NO, not from the local supermarket ? I'm talking about the era when there was no recourse but to hunt for food.Suddenly you hear a snarl ? you turn around and see a saber-toothed tiger not far off, eyeing you like the latest super-size meal at McDonalds. What do you do?.You have two choices.
You can wrap both hands tightly around the club you have with you and run towards the tiger, trying to slam him to the ground, hitting hard and furiously, needing to immobilize this ferocious beast. Once he's on the ground, you hit again and again ? you punch, you kick, until at last the tiger is dead.Or ? you can look quickly from side to side, until you spot a cave not too far away.
You know the tiger can run faster than you can, but the cave is close enough that you might have a chance for survival. So you lower your head and put out a mighty burst of energy, running literally for your life! You barely make it to the cave in time to slam the front boulder shut, just as the tiger is leaping for you.All right?now take a moment to re-live both of these scenarios.
In both cases something frightened you ? therefore your body shot out an extra dose of adrenaline for you to use ? your heart beat accelerated ? you felt excited and energized - until at last you accomplished your goal ? either the Fight or the Flight.Now, see yourself after these two scenarios are over ? slowly, slowly your heart beat slows down to normal; your breathing slows also. Your muscles relax.
There's no longer the requirement for the physical acceleration that accompanies the fight or flight syndrome. All is well ? everything is back to normal.Either of these incidents could have taken perhaps 5 to 10 minutes from first awareness to the return to normal, deep relaxed breathing.Well? So? "So what? In fact. You might be saying "I'm not a cave-man?I'm not running into saber toothed tigers out there"!.Ah, but sadly, we are ? it's just that we don't call our anxiety accelerating situations "saber-toothed tigers".
The stressful situations we confront are much more subtle, and therefore we don't often recognize them as eliciting the fight or flight conditions in us.Just take a moment to think about some of the stress producing circumstances most of us confront from time to time. Here are some examples: an argument with your spouse; your teenager who doesn't come home until 2 hours after curfew, while you're pacing the floor imagining the worst; looking at the last total in your checkbook and realizing that you don't have the money to make your rent or mortgage payment; hearing that one of your parents is really sick, and unable to care for themselves; thinking about your boring, hateful job ? the list goes on and on, doesn't it.According to the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, whether or not you actually lose your job isn't all that relevant to your overall health - the stress of that prospect is sufficient to affect your physical and mental health.
Notice what happens in your own body when these situations arise ? or perhaps when you just think about them.Worry, concern, anger, depression ? these all affect our vital signs, producing greater activity in the part of our brain that processes fear and assess signs of threat, therefore arousing the part of the nervous system that affects heart rate and blood pressure. And so we find ourselves clenching our teeth, breathing harder, scrunching up our facial muscles ? all in preparation to fight, or run!.Well by now it should be clear that stress can shorten your life, and at the very least, make life very unpleasant.
Anything and everything you can do to reduce your stress ? to relax ? to let go - will help you to live longer, healthier and happier!.*Science Journal, 3/17/06 issue WSJ..Jan Berman, BA, CHT http://www.relaxandlive.
us.Ms. Berman received her Certification in Hypnotherapy from the Twin Lakes College of the Healing Arts, and has been treating clients for stress reduction for 15 years.
She produced the "Relax and Live" CD to assist people in reducing stress and living more relaxed lives.
By: Jan Berman