Stress: The Biggest Disruption to Health and Happiness

So many people are spinning around so fast, either in their heads or in the “doing” of life, with mile-long lists of “to do’s” and expectations. Some are like ducks on a pond relaxed and in control on the surface, but feet moving like crazy under the water trying to keep up and stay afloat. Others are like hummingbirds, flitting here and there, only to pause for a moment in between, yet mindlessly moving while being constantly distracted. Which one are you?

The common theme in constant doing, constant distraction, and drive, is the challenge to reset and relax. This is the stress of life and the biggest disrupter to balance, health, and happiness. This continual motion, overthinking, and future-focus is throwing the nervous system out of balance, keeping us in the fight or flight mode with little time to rest and digest. It is no wonder we have so many chronic health complaints, including anxiety and depression.

Gastrointestinal problems are the number one complaint bringing people to seek medical advice. When the body is exposed to chronic stress or a state of sympathetic nervous system overload, it disrupts digestion, sleep, brain function, hormone function, immune function, and feeds inflammation in the body. When we are future-focused, we often miss out on the here and now, which is the only place we have control over our choices, thoughts, and actions in the present moment.

There is good news; you CAN take back control over your health and your happiness by learning to be more present in your life and manage the inevitable stressors of life. Stress is our body’s reaction to a challenge or demand, and it can be physical or emotional. It can be positive, like help us get away from danger. That is acute stress. Chronic, or prolonged stress becomes negative when we cannot reset the stress response, or be resilient and normalize the body and mind response to stress.

What creates stress in our lives?

  • Work demands
  • Home and family demands
  • Thoughts and emotions
  • Poor nutrition, excess sugar, alcohol, saturated fats
  • Poor sleep
  • Too much or too little exercise
  • Illness or injury

One of the best ways to reset the stress response is to stop and take four to five slow deep breaths. To go a step further, tune into the body and mind and notice thoughts, sensations, and tensions. Consciously release the tension in the body and pay attention to the thoughts, without judging them. Just notice them. From there you can slowly take back control by shifting the thoughts or mindset from negative to positive, anchoring your attention to the present moment and what you CAN control right here, right now. Then, breathe and start to let the worry, the chaos, the doing go, even if just for a moment.

This takes practice, but the first powerful step to stress management is to pause with purpose and just breathe.

For more tips and steps to better manage stress, check out my 5 R\’s of Stress Management. For more tools to reset with meditation and movement, I invite you to check out my YouTube channel.

Be well,

– Jen

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