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What is STRESS and why it matters

What is stress?

Stress is defined as “any change you must adapt to”, this includes both negative and positive change. Stress is something we all face: no matter who we are, or where we live. It is a function of being alive.

There is no getting away from stress but this not entirely a bad thing, because while too much stress is not good for us, neither is too little. This may seem surprising to most people. In fact, stress is natural, desirable and essential to life. Without positive stress, our lives would be far less rewarding, healthy and interesting.

Positive stress comes in many forms: some examples could be desired life events like falling in love, getting a promotion at work, or having children. A less obvious example is the positive stress of cardiovascular exercise, which pushes our bodies to adapt to greater physical demands and in the process increases the fitness of our heart and other muscles, and positively impacts our overall health, quality of life and longevity. So you can see that stress, in and of itself, is not always a bad thing.

However, negative stress and an overload of stress is an enormous cause of suffering and really IS of epidemic proportions in current times.

<h2″>Where does stress come from?

Stress comes from living! There are four basic sources:

  • From things in our environment, like noise, weather, traffic etc. 
  • From social stressors like deadlines, financial problems, demands on our time and attentions, losses etc.
  • From physiological stressors such as illness, ageing, accidents, poor nutrition, as well as your body’s reaction to environmental and social stressors. Examples are symptoms like muscle tension, headaches, stomach upset, anxiety and so on. 
  • From our mind. Our brain interprets and translates the complex changes in our internal and external world and determines when to turn “on” the stress response.

We tend to think of stress as something outside ourselves, so it can be surprising to learn that our own mind is significant a sources of stress in our lives. This is important when it comes to managing stress and I will take this up much more detail in subsequent blog posts that will give tips and techniques to manage stress. 

WHY IT MATTERS:

Unmanaged stress erodes our physical health, reduces our enjoyment of life and adversely affects our emotional and psychological well-being. How you handle the stress in your life can mean the difference between struggling and thriving, the difference between illness and well-being.  

The STRESS CYCLE

Negative or accumulated stress causes problems which in turn creates more stress, which then causes other problems and the stress cycle begins.  For example, one underlying contributor to cardiac illness for many people is unmanaged stress. Living with heart disease creates physical, mental and emotional stress, which in turn increases your risk of future cardiac events. I call this the Stress Cycle. Actively managing the stress in your life helps you to take control of and manage the stress cycle.  

What are the BENEFITS of controlling your stress?

  • Helps eliminate unnecessary energy drain, so more energy
  • Maintains stored resiliency and increases adaptability 
  • Impatience, irritability & anger decrease
  • Improves physical and emotional health
  • Allows greater access to inner wisdom
  • Memory, focus & other brain functions improve
  • Better, more restful sleep at night

Who doesn’t want all of the benefits listed above?!

Check out upcoming blogs on more topics about stress and heart health. I will share how to identify the symptoms of stress, tips and techniques to stop the stress cycle so you can gain the benefits of reduced stress in your life!

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