Since we're always talking about the negatives, I'm going to take a moment to stick up for stress.
We need stress to be able to react to dangerous situations. It's what keeps us alive as a species, just in case we're threatened or attacked. Positive stress (eustress):
Releases hormones into your bloodstream to get your heart pumping and give you energy.
Burns off your sugar stores to give you fast acting sugars for an energy turbo boost.
Creates a cushion around your cells and tissues in case you get tousled up in a fight or fall.
Pauses digestion so you don’t have to waste time.
Clears your mind by creating so you can be totally present and focused.
Stress triggers the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response) to get through difficult and life threatening situations. It’s the basic goal of the body to survive and it uses stress as a warning bell to keep us alert and alive when attacked.
I mean honestly, how amazing is your body?! Take a moment.
The reason why stress gets so much flak is because the nervous system doesn’t realize that we’ve evolved and made a society that creates a lot of mental stress without a physical threat. In today’s world, when we experience stress through the day, it’s usually not because we’re in physical danger.
Still, it’s triggering those benefits I listed above EVERY TIME we stress. Think about that… Let's say, hypothetically, that lava is pouring out onto the floor you're standing on. If you needed to climb a flight of stairs once or twice to escape, you could handle that and survive no problem. But what if you had to climb 10 flights? What about 50? Or 100? You’d be on constant alert, stressed, and absolutely exhausted. But that’s what we’re putting our mind and body through every day. Lots of us are living in a constant state of stress (77% of Americans reported physical symptoms as a response to stress!) and that lava is burning out the positive benefits! That’s negative stress, distress, and chronic distress is what people are talking about when they hate on stress.
Gets your heart pumping over and over again through the day, creating fatigue and high blood pressure.
Completely depletes our sugar stores making us crave sweets and carbs for a quick refuel.
Creates a cushion, inflammation, around our cells and tissues that stimulates the immune system (affecting those with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases).
Leads to digestive disorders and imbalances.
Creates inflammation around the frontal lobe so our conscious decision making becomes hazy and strained.
Distress is what everyone is talking about when they connect stress to chronic health issues. If you feel like you manage burnout more often than stress, understand that the first step in overcoming it is becoming aware of it. Don’t let it upset you, but simply notice how often you feel stressed through the day. Notice how fast your thoughts race through all the worries of the day. Become aware of how you feel energetically at the end of the day and whether or not you have cravings. Take time to pay attention to how your body feels physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Stress is a natural part of life, but distress - especially chronic distress, can negatively impact your entire experience every single day. Being aware allows you to recognize and begin to stop situations where stress takes over.
So don’t hate on stress, it can do a lot of good. Just be mindful and remember... Everything in moderation.