It’s 2:00 a.m. and you’re still up. Nope, you’re not somewhere exciting. You’re in bed, the place sleep should be happening. And nope it’s not because your baby/partner/dog just woke you up. These puffy eyes haven’t slept a wink yet. It’s stress and it’s the villain stealing you from your slumber. So for today let’s study the love but mostly hate relationship we have with stress. We’ll cover when it can be a friend and when it can be the roommate that just won’t go away.
First let’s look at when stress can be a friend. Say you’re in the city. You spot a shady character eyeing your shinny watch. The body marshals up its forces and sends out its macho hormones cortisol and adrenalin. Adrenalin gets our blood pressure rising and sets our heart on overtime. If we need to run away or stand up and defend ourselves our muscles are now soaked in oxygen rich blood and are ready for battle. Meanwhile the cortisol gets the attention of your immune system. So the body is ready to fight an assault whether it is by bacteria, virus or physical injury.
Good stress doesn’t have to be just physical either. The stress from having a report due the next day can keep you alert while you burn the midnight oil. Some folks get their best work done in the eleventh hour.
Now on to the ‘I have a boss I hate’ or ‘can this car ahead of me go any slower’ kind of stress. Chronic stress is a killer. Literally the guys at the CDC say up to 90 percent of all diseases and illness are stress related. So next time someone says something is all ‘in your head’ remember how important that place is. And just how does long-term stress assault the body? Well, when cortisol sticks around too long it can make the blood too sugary and is called hyperglycemia.
Bad stress can keep the heart pumping too fast for too long and leave us with hypertension and raise our bad cholesterol levels. Eventually our frazzled nervous system begins to atrophy and remembering where we put our keys becomes a struggle. Not to mention all this tension we hold in our muscles due to this never released threat. We can’t cover all of the 90 percent, but you can connect the dots.
So should we now stress out about stress? I hope not. Hopefully this will give you just one more reason to put your ‘piece of mind’ at the top of your list. To lower stress some people just walk it off. Yes, taking a daily stroll can give that entire emotional static and give it a physical outlet. Others write in a journal or tell a trusted ear. Just saying it out loud can help you release some steam. Sometimes we just need to take out what (or who) is stressing us out, out of our lives.
Some say they can just live with the stress. But stress is the opposite of living. It can shrink it down and squeeze all the life out of it.