Stress is our way of responding to any kind of pressure in our lives. When people feel stressed by something going on around them, their bodies react by releasing the hormones, adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. These hormones speed up the heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and metabolism. Blood vessels dilate increasing blood flow to large muscle groups, putting our muscles on alert. Pupils dilate to improve vision. The liver releases glucose to increase the body’s energy, and there is an increase of sweat produced to cool the body. All of these physical changes prepare a person to react quickly and effectively to handle the pressure. This can be a good thing if their stress is caused by physical danger, which is known as the “fight or flight response”. But this can also be a bad thing, if their stress is in response to something emotional and there is no outlet for this extra energy, strength and changes in their body.
Stress is one of those things where too much or not enough can cause long lasting affects on your health, physically and mentally. In today’s society it seems that an overload of stress is the predominate cause for relationship breakdowns, health problems, and issues at work. Stress doesn’t just affect the individual and their loved ones, it can have a detrimental affect on business as well. It can lead to high levels of work absence, increased staff turnover and poor morale.
Everyone handles stress differently. Two people can be in the same traffic jam, and react entirely differently. One may be planning the weekend ahead, listening to music and the other swearing, blowing their car horn and getting angrier and angrier by the minute. Do you recognize one of these people? Which one are you? Or are you somewhere in between?
Stress can build up gradually. Many people are simply unaware that they are reaching high stress levels until they reach their breaking point. It is like the story of the frog. If you put the frog into a saucepan of extremely hot water, he will immediately jump out. Put that same frog into a saucepan of cold water and slowly turn up the heat until it reaches the same temperature and he won’t try to escape. He just doesn’t realize that he has got himself into “hot water”! It’s like that with stress – we don’t often notice the gradual build up of the pressure in our lives.
Did you know that over 1/4 of all drugs supplied in the Western world is for the treatment of stress? However, there are simple methods of reducing your stress levels without the use of pharmaceuticals. My upcoming posts will discuss these methods of reducing your stress levels, how to deal with stress overload, and better still, how to avoid it in the first place by using a series of techniques including meditation.