When you’re caught in a whirlwind of activity, minimize stress by learning how to relax.
Daily life is filled with stress: Ringing phones, crying children, traffic jams, crowded stores, malfunctioning technology, over-scheduled weekends and evenings – sounds, obligations, disruptions and energy bombard us constantly. It affects our bodies as well as our minds, moods and emotions. We don’t have to drown in the chaos, though. A few simple techniques will help you find calm in the eye of the storm. But first, it’s helpful to understand the storm and what it can do to you.
Stress and Your Body
You’re probably already familiar with the direct impact that stress has on your body. Your breathing becomes faster and shallower, your pulse increases and you feel a general sense of nervousness. These involuntary responses reflect the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which sends out adrenaline and other stimulating hormones that accelerate your blood pressure, heart rate and metabolism.
“But that’s how life is,” you might say. Challenges, disruptions and irritations can’t be avoided, and neither can the needs of people who live with or depend on us. Besides, a lot of people thrive on stress, and sometimes it can be exhilarating. It motivates you, gets your juices running, and makes life feel exciting.
It’s true that sometimes the physical changes that stress induces can be beneficial. They can provide the extra oomph needed to perform an extraordinary physical act, such as completing a marathon, running from an attacker or even rescuing someone. Researchers have dubbed this the fight-or-flight syndrome, because it helped our early ancestors escape sudden danger.
But not all side effects of stress are necessarily so immediate or desirable. Most modern situations don’t call for the heroic energy that stress can trigger. If you don’t have an outlet for venting it, the physical effects of stress will stay with you. Over time, that can cause problems.
Repeated stress can wreak havoc with your body. It can wear down your resistance to disease, encourage high blood pressure and lead to hardening of the arteries, heart attacks and strokes. Just thinking about its possible side effects is enough to put you on edge. But you don’t have to stay at risk for any of them.
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