I often hear people tell me, “It’s just stress.” Well, there’s nothing just about it.
When you are stressed, your brain receives signals indicating that you are under an attack of some sort. Regardless of the reason, real or imaginary, your system is flooded with chemicals, resulting in fight, flight or freeze.
Start to notice how often you are feeling stressed. This includes worry, anxiety, sadness, boredom – the list goes on. What was your perception of the events leading up to this? Did you see, hear, smell or feel something.
For example, in the past, it was common for me to jump on the worry train first thing in the morning. I’d have some swelling and stiffness and would immediately begin to worry. “Oh no, I’m having a flare-up! What if it gets worse? How will I . . . ?” On it went, and as a result, this would trigger the stress response. Those chemicals, a throw-back to pre-historic times, actually made the situation worse.
Better pain management is one of a multitude of benefits you’ll enjoy when you learn to transform your stress.
Now, if I do notice the morning stiffness, I let the worry train go by. I choose to activate a different set of chemicals; I use positive thoughts and memories and watch how my heart rhythm evens out.
Exercise, laughter, music – doing the things that you love – help to change the chemical cascade. Endorphins—the happy hormones—rise. Cortisol—the stress hormone—levels decrease.
This bears repeating: your body is constantly making adjustments based upon what you hear, smell, think, see and feel. Develop your awareness, practise some techniques and choose to respond differently. It’s a skill I began learning in 2006 and one I continue to sharpen. Why? Because it’s worth it!