Small Daily Stresses Can Have Big Negative Impacts
Your body is hard-wired to react to stress in ways meant to protect you against threats from predators and other aggressors. Such real threats are relatively rare today but our lives are filled with daily stressors like paying the bills, caring for family, traffic and well you know the long list well.
Here's the rub, our brains react the same to the daily stressors as they do the major threats.
Those stressors are then processed by the brain as a real threat activating the stress system, which leads to Cortisol secretion. When brains are flooded with the stress hormone cortisol on a long-term basis it keeps us in a constant state of Fight or Flight.
How Cortisol Works
When the adrenal glands release cortisol into your bloodstream, the hormone triggers a flood of glucose that supplies an immediate energy source to your large muscles. It also inhibits insulin production so the glucose won’t be stored but will be available for immediate use.
Cortisol narrows the arteries, while another hormone, epinephrine, increases your heart rate. Working together, they force your blood to pump harder and faster as you confront and resolve the immediate threat.
Without a plan to reduce your daily stressors and thus reduce the activation of your stress system you are putting undue load on your physical and mental capacity to cope with, well simply put, life.
My Top 3 Tactics to Reduce Stress
"Unreal these 3 are top secret tactics to Nirvana" - Everybody Reading This
See that's the trick there really aren't any secrets to achieving incredible improvement in almost anything you want to achieve. Be it quality of life, reducing stress, or surf performance. Doing the basics consistently is how to reach your goals.
Do all three below for the next 7 days and YOU WILL see a marked improvement in outlook, attitude, energy, and the list goes on.
1. Mindfulness - Be still for 10 minutes and practice your breath or meditate daily . Start by committing to do it for the 7 days without fail. Couple this with Static Back for an amazing start and / or finish to your day.
2. Movement- A personal fitness trainer advocating exercise as a path to overall improvement? "Well I didn't see that coming". But here's the deal it doesn't have to be major exercise everyday. Somedays you might just have 5 minutes and that's okay. You can get a ton of benefit in 5 minutes.
Yes the suggested minimum is 30 minutes of elevated heart rate and strength work 3 times per week and more if you have goals to improve. Reaching those goals though starts with 5 minutes or more of movement everyday. Go for a walk, do several yoga poses or some Active Isolated Stretching and then we can build from there.
3. Stop reading or watching the daily news - Over the last several decades television news has gone from a source of current affairs and information which was subsidized by the networks to a highly profitable product.
The oft recited "If it bleeds it leads" means most information conveyed in the media is negative and with the advent of specialized television channels offering 24-hour coverage, internet and smartphones, the possibility to be constantly in contact with the media has increased dramatically in the last decades.
Lots of money to be made + unlimited amounts of negative information to consume = Our communities in a constant state of stress.
Not long ago I read up to 3 newspapers and visited several news sites daily telling myself I wanted to "stay informed" of what's happening in the world. The actual result was the important information that I was receiving was being buried and diluted under the onslaught of horrific incidents occurring in distant communities.
I realized I wasn't being informed I was being overwhelmed. Now, to stay engaged, I visit text only news presented in a list format (Here's an example from NPR) and not everyday. This allows me to quickly scan relevant topics and information. Text only limits the distraction, click bait, and rabbit holes designed by experts to keep your eyes glued to the screen.
Grab coffee with friends and volunteer with a local non-profit to stay connected to and engaged with your local community. If something significant happens in your town you are going to know about it.
Sign up for the auto reminders below and be in a better place, with less stress, and a more optimistic outlook 7 days from now. It won't be the finish line (that's really only is one place for all of us, right?) but you will be out of the starting gate and on your path to better.