Don’t Hold On…If it’s Stressing You Out

I always like it when different parts of my life come together in a common theme or idea.  This happened a lot after reading Mark Sisson’s The Primal Connection: Follow Your Genetic Blueprint to Health and Happiness, and comparing it to what I’ve learned via  The ways that J.B. Glossinger and many other success coaches and personal evolution gurus teach us totally jibe with the ancestral instincts that we’ve evolved with as per Sisson and others.  It’s really amazing.

Case in point:  one day, J.B. told us the story of a lecturer who came into her lecture holding a glass of water.  Expecting this to lead into a glass-half-empty-or-half-full story, the audience was surprised to hear her discuss just how that glass is like stress.

Holding that glass out for a minute would be no big deal.  It really doesn’t weigh that much, and no one would have trouble with that task.  Holding it for an hour?  That’d be significantly tougher to do.  Holding it for a whole day?  That’d be nearly crippling! 

In the same way, our bodies are designed to deal with quick bouts of stress via the fight-or-flight response.  We quickly generate adrenaline for a quick escape or fight, our senses increase, our muscles tense, and other parts of the body temporarily shut down to help us get out of those stressful situations.  And that’s a perfectly healthy thing, something our bodies expect to do. 

Now, hold on to that stress for a while.  Constantly being in that state of fight-or-flight leads things like adrenal fatigue, hormone disregulation, immune function disorders, and more.  Robb Wolf has mentioned a couple times that his issues with gluten didn’t really crop up until he was stressing his system with graduate school, a grueling schedule, and going on a vegetarian diet.  Stress can cause immune problems, there’s little doubt.

In fact, it’s given by a couple of the experts in the Transcendence series I’ve been watching of late on Food Matters TV. A temporary stress, like a panther attacking your tribe, causes the fight-or-flight response to shut down your immune system, digestion, and other key bodily functions while you put all your energy into fighting back or getting away, it should return your body to its status quo once the threat is gone.  But… if the stress doesn’t go away because of all the stresses bombarding you throughout the day, then that immune suppression and other effects of the fight-or-flight response won’t ever go away, and your body is open to disease all the time. 

Like everyone, I’ve gone through some periods of stress in my life, and it’s amazing how it affected me.  For example, I bruised my ribs during the Mud Ninja race a few years ago (though I’m proud to say I did finish and had a great time doing it!) and for a long time I wasn’t able to work out. And it was very uncomfortable to sleep on, breathe with, etc.  So lack of sleep, pain, and inability to work out added to the stress of every day life and work and the like, and it’s shown up in the form of headaches and pain in the back of my neck.

And though I will get a second opinion, I took the opportunity to have a chiropractic screening the other day at a road race that my kids took part in.  And the inflammation in my neck was in the red (literally – they somehow read the stress/spinal state or whatever it’s called in chiropractic circles and apply green, yellow, and red to it). 

The stress in our lives has a physical manifestation, there’s no doubt.  And those physical manifestations, which come from what’s essentially a mental stimulus via outside stressors, create more mental issues!  It’s a vicious cycle, unless we take steps on our own to take care of the problems we’re encountering.

For me, I solved it by trying to at least get out for walks for my workouts, such as they were, and to keep up with my personal evolution work.  I wasn’t perfect, but a little bit of improvement every day is all we need to turn that vicious cycle around.  And no matter what happens, that’s what I’m aiming for.  Going from 51% bad to 51% good is all it takes.

So if stress is affecting you, do something about it today.  Eat a better diet.  Get some exercise.  Meditate or do some yoga, or t’ai chi.  Jump into a cold shower. Take on your problems head-on.  There are so many ways to fix the problem, it’s just time to pick one (or more) and go with it!  Do what it takes to put that glass down.  Or what the heck, take a drink!