I can not believe how often I hear the question “how do you handle anxiety?”, which makes me think how many people are suffering from stress and anxieties. Of course, we all have to deal with unusual circumstances and we all respond differently, we each let it affect us individually in different ways.
I can definitely understand how challenging this can be. Although we need to also be aware that stress and anxiety can cause huge health problems. These may not be noticeable immediately, but eventually can lead to problems that can be very serious and may be irreversible too.
What is stress? Stress is actually one of our body’s natural defense mechanisms, and under normal conditions it is a good thing to have. However, when we naturally experience stress it is via our “fight or flight response” and lasts only a very short time. But when we have an ongoing chronic stress response then we will start experiencing health problems, because chronic stress means that we are resisting the situation that we are in. Out heart rate increases, our blood pressure increases, circulation slows down, breathing becomes shallow, our ability to think clearly decreases, we can experience panic attack symptoms, and depending on any other underlying health conditions much more could happen.
“In life, stress happens when you resist… No matter what comes your way, if you take a rigid position, you experience pain. Never oppose force with force. Instead, absorb it and use it… Yielding can overcome even a superior force.”
— Dan Millman (author of “Way of the Peaceful Warrior”)
You may have heard about the hormone cortisol, commonly referred to as the “stress hormone”. Our body releases it to regulate homeostasis and to find a healthy balance.
So while stress is a natural response for human body, unless we put a meaning to the specific situation that we are in, stress can never exist. Thinking intently about future or past events will most likely increase stress and cause anxiety. And, most importantly, we are then missing the full experience of this moment — something that we will never have the chance to see again.
Did you know that we can actually also create eustress, which is actually “good” or beneficial stress? It can help to motivate and energize us, and give us focus. You can create this positive eustress by doing things such as going for a walk in the forest, trying new hobbies, watching exciting movies, and traveling, especially somewhere that you have never been before.
But if I say to you now “don’t stress”, probably it’s not that easy and it won’t work. To be fair, you will probably want to ask me “how”? To answer this, in my next column I will go into more details about solutions for reducing anxiety, including herbs, nutrition tips, and some easy to make lifestyle modifications.
Until then I can give some small advice. Minimize watching the news, and prioritize your sleep. You are much more important than anything around you and if you are not well you can not help anyone around you too.
This week is a perfect time to practice eustress and to live with gratitude. It is impossible to be grateful and stressed at the same time, gratitude and stress can not coexist.
Happy Aloha Thanksgiving!
1 — “Psychological stress definition”; available at https://www.healthline.com/health/psychological-stress#overview
2 — “Biological basis of the stress response”; available at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1576090/
3 — “Molecular biology of stress responses”; available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC514795/
4 — “BIOLOGY OF STRES”; available at https://humanstress.ca/stress/what-is-stress/biology-of-stress/
5 — “The good stress: How eustress helps you grow”; available at https://www.stress.org/the-good-stress-how-eustress-helps-you-grow
6 — “Dan Millman, The Peaceful Warrior”; available at https://www.peacefulwarrior.com/