We can all agree that too much stress is a bad thing for our bodies.
Being put under too much pressure whether it be physical, emotional, or mental can cause serious health problems, greatly reduce your quality of living, and stop you from enjoying everyday life. It has become a bad word, and everyone is talking about how to eliminate it and avoid things that cause tension or strain on your emotional and physical well-being.
Advice such as stretching more often, drinking more water, getting better sleep, eating more kale, moving for 30 minutes every day, getting regular massages, and the list goes on and on are all true, helpful, and part of the solution.
However, while all of that is absolutely great advice and will move stress out of the body, none of those things address the root cause of stress. They are treating the symptom not the problem.
It’s true that stress causes toxicity in your life. It creates physical and emotional pain, muscular knots, headaches, digestive issues, trouble sleeping, anxiety and so much more but the real cause of stress is not your outside circumstances.
The root cause of stress is your feelings, thoughts, and beliefs that are connected to everything you experience in life.
You will see this in athletes all the time, a quarterback that never gets sacked suddenly does and now he can’t seem to throw a pass to save himself. It’s because his mind got rattled and now he’s worried about his defensive line not protecting him, instead of searching for the best person to throw the football to. It changes the entire game and has cost many players their wins.
That’s why each suggested stress reduction action involves deep breathing, because it calms your mind, and gives it a chance to search for a productive solution and peaceful balance.
Stress starts in the mind and moves out from there like a giant root system of a tree and affects all areas of your life.
When you take a deep breath and release it with control, it turns on your parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of your nervous system that tells your body it’s time to relax, go to sleep, take a chill pill, etc. Have you ever heard someone say “take a deep breath to calm yourself down?” This is exactly why. On the flip side, when the other half of your nervous system is triggered, the sympathetic nervous system, it’s moving your body through space at a crazy fast rate. It’s like going through life spinning plates on tiny poles above your head, never stopping because they will fall if you do.
Why is all of this important?
Because the beautiful thing about the root cause of stress is it is one hundred percent controllable by your reactions, thoughts, and beliefs.
Taking a deep breath is the first step. Getting your body to pause and switch to your parasympathetic nervous system will help you sort through the best action to take to counteract that stress. It also trains your body to change its reaction to stress. Instead of inviting in for an extended stay-cation, your body will say no thanks, here’s the door.
The more often you do this, the faster you will get at recognizing stress, what you can do to dance with it, reduce its impact and start to shrink that giant root system so it becomes a tiny seed pod instead of a growing to a massive oak tree.
It’s interesting to know that the other definition of stress is giving something particular emphasis or importance. You can train your mind to react to stress in a way that’s healthy and moves it through and out of your body.
By placing “stress” on changing your reactions, and then empowering yourself with deep breathing to reinforce the experience you want instead, you will be able to control the root cause of stress and change your everyday life for the better.
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*Originally Published on August 16, 2018.
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