What’s the point?
Well actually, stress used to be pretty effective in avoiding death! Back in the day it was important to react to threats from the likes of sabre-tooth tigers and other such animals that fancied us for dinner – the ‘flight or fight’ response, as it’s known. In such situations, the increased energy and alertness provided by this stress response greatly increased our chances of survival.
Now it may surprise you, but this instinctive reaction has somewhat outlived its purpose. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t once found myself running down the isles of my local supermarket, throwing packets of pasta in my wake, trying to outrun a ferocious predator – not yet anyway!
Why are we so stressed when we don’t need to be?
After all, living in the Western world, the chance of any type of disaster befalling us is pretty minimal. Yet, for some strange reason, we still feel the need to flood our bodies with cortisol, the stress hormone.
Cortisol is still an important hormone in regulating some of the body’s functions. In higher levels, however, it can have a detrimental effect, including increased blood pressure and blood-sugar imbalances.
My personal favourite, though, is the ‘doughnut effect’ (and no, that doesn’t mean the relief of stress through the consumption of doughnuts as a coping mechanism!). This is actually a side-effect of stress that makes us fat around our middles.
Pay attention to stress!
Aside from this physical issue, however, cortisol also makes us feel scared of life and teaches us that taking risks may have terrible consequences – which isn’t true. People who take healthy risks tend to be more successful, enjoy their jobs more and fare better in both intimate and general relationships!
If you have the courage to stop and listen, stress is actually a message, telling you that you need to change your life. Whether it’s letting you know that you are unhappy with your body, job, relationship, or any situation in general, you have a chance to acknowledge this and consciously change the way you are living. By aiming to reduce your stress, you will automatically increase your level of happiness.
What’s stressing you out right now?
Identify it and then confront it. No matter what it is, you can face it, you can take control and you can move forward.
Be sure to make a note of your progress in your Switch journal and watch my video on the issue. Also, check out more stress-busting advice from Dr Hilary in his article and video. Remember – life is healthier, happier and longer when you keep your world…
A stress-free zone!