Over the last several years, the meaning of feeling “stressed” has become all too familiar to many of us as the planet teeters on an unpredictable course of change, along with political division and disenfranchisement has distressed many of us. Even more personal can be the car that cut you off, or braking just in time to not hit a child that darted out into the street. Changes at work, impossible schedules, sleep deprivation… all of these add to the frailty of our exposure and response to life’s stressors.
The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.Sydney Harris
A body exposed to stress for prolonged amounts of time means an increased level of cortisol, which is an ancient response that prepares us for the proverbial “fight or flight” response. Unfortunately, we carry this heightened sense of “emergency” with us chronically and have become unaware of it. Long term, there are damaging illnesses that come with stress, but today let’s look at the body’s reaction to stress so we can “check in” and become more aware of our own body reactions and indicators we are in a stressed state. Stress impacts all of our being: body, spirit, energy field, and mind.
Cooler hands and feet because blood flow is constricted in a stress response.
Tightening of muscles (neck, shoulders, thighs) as the body readies to fight or escape.
Energy field constriction as focus is heightened, energy focused within body.
Increased heart rate
Breath increasing and shallower
Heightened awareness of surroundings
Increased blood pressure
These body changes, if chronic, are hardly ever noticed in the person who deals with stress all the time. In this state, the body is prepared for a fight or an escape from harm. It’s ready for shock, trauma, or garnering all the strength it has for danger. In a stressful world, however, we can remain on this “high alert” status when there is no danger, but instead the pressures of life.
It’s known that most of us have little ability or knowledge on how to relax and help dissipate all this stress, and instead we carry it with us.
There are many health conditions associated with chronic stress that can cause disease processes. This is why Nurse Coaches can work with individuals or with groups to teach heightened stress awareness and some easy-to-use interventions that can help dissipate the stress through Relaxation methods. We’ll talk about those in another blog entry.
© Three Moons Medicine®