Let’s face it. We live in a society that is stressed!
Stress has become a worldwide epidemic. Merely speaking about the subject of “stress” is enough to potentially start stressing a person out. But that’s where I both ask and challenge you, my friend, to continue to read. Why? Because without facing into the subject of stress, how are we going to understand and start to overcome it?
Today, I want you to come along and talk about a subject that I openly share life experiences, insights, facts, and of course, bringing humor in on a subject that is WAY too serious and stressful! Alas, come along and let our journey begin!
Growing up I would have never been able to put it into words, stress. But now days I can. I was STRESSED both inwardly and outwardly. I was living in a chronic state of stress due to many circumstances that effected me. Environment, people, relationships, not choosing the right foods for my body, not using my voice to speak (refer to the blog Can You Hear Me?), but instead keeping my voice, thoughts and young opinions all bottled up inside of me until alas, I’d erupted like a volcano. I could not identify this chronic state of stress. The stress wasn’t normal… or was it? What is “normal” stress?
Their are two kinds of ways our bodies respond to stress. The first is the “Symapthetic Nervous System” response, which is our fight and flight, or FREEZE response. We fight back, we fly the coop, or we freeze. This is a normal and healthy response as long as we aren’t stuck in this state for any length of time. Animals do this as well.
The second kind of response to stress is the “Parasympathetic Nervous System” response. This response usually happens after the initial “Sympathetic Nervous System” response (but some people have learned to respond to stress in “Parasympathtic NS” initially to stressful situations, having a cool, calm and peaced-out response compared to what most others do when in stress). Now, in a “Parasympathetic NS” response, we can breathe normal again, feeling calm and relaxed. Our body is getting back into its healthy way to not only deal with, but to take the stress that just happened OUT of our body. Then, the body begins to work like normal again, and our heart rate, breath, sweating, pulse, blood pressure, all go back to normal. Pretty amazing how our body knows how to do this, right?!?
Okay, so we have these two ways our body handles stress that are already inside of us. What do WE as humans do when we are stressed? More often than not we let our brain do the thinking for us. This often tends to give us a false sense of security, since our brain is heightened from this stressful occurrence that just took place. Our brain tells us, “Oh, we don’t need to talk about that. We’re fine. ” Or our brain tells us, “Let’s go eat ______,” thinking that food will bring us comfort because we just went through a lot of stress, being rewarded to aid in calming us down. Our mind sometimes provoke us to do things that aren’t always the BEST for us. This being said, how can we control the brain?
It’s not necessarily about CONTROLLING the brain, it’s identifying that the brain does this on it’s own. Allowing ourselves not to make quick decisions when we are still in or coming out of the stress response is a “normal” task that we have to consciously recognize. More important then the brain’s action when we are out of this stress response is that we listen to our heart.
Yes, that’s right. Our heart. Because our heart is made up of the same tissues that our brain is, it’s also called our second brain because it truly IS our second brain. The brain and heart work together in SO many ways. But today we are only going to visit the ways in which they relate to today’s topic being “stress”.
As our brain is still in the initial stress response, our heart has already conveyed that the brain is in this response. The heart at this point is trying to awaken US to listen to it instead of the brain, at this time saying, “Hey you! I’m here and trying to tell you something important! Don’t listen to the brain right now! Listen to me! I’m going to tell you the truth and give you solid advice that you KNOW in your heart of hearts is the truth! So hey, listen up you!”
Have you ever had times in your life that you KNOW that your heart is telling you something important and you listened to what it was telling you? One of my personal examples of this that has happened more times than I can count: Having a heartfelt knowing that I need to contact a friend and just drop a note saying something to the extent of, “Hey, how’s it going? Been thinking about you. How are you? How’s life?” The response back is usually something like this, “Hey, thanks for checking in! Life has been really full lately and this note was so timely and welcomed!” And then they go on sharing in the space I made available to them, from my heart.
Why am I sharing this is? Because this is a great example of listening to our heart and following thru with what our heart is telling us to do. Personally speaking, when I don’t listen to my heart, I know it. I don’t sleep as well and I have this nagging feeling that just won’t let up. The heart makes this disturbance well-known to me. As I follow my hearts’ promptings I feel lighter and more at ease. I know that it’s much easier to listen to my heart than to try to ignore it, which just ends up causing some kind of stress in my life.
Stress isn’t something that is hard to find or see in our everyday lives. It’s easy to grasp hold of stress. It’s easy to create our own stress. In today’s society, we humans are way too good at creating our own stress… or what we perceive to be “stress”. What do I mean by that? We tend to have an idea or plan of what we want to get accomplished in a day. Maybe we’ve written it on a “To-Do” list so that we don’t miss anything, or we make ourselves a vision board which can put ourselves on a time-frame to complete the goals, thus stressing us out. I think lists and goals are great, really. Lists help me remember things that I may forget, but where this gets stressful is when we see our list and we feel PRESSURED to get everything on the list done. We are literally creating our own stress, and then the response comes from either our head, OR our heart. We stay up later at night to get that last item crossed off, and we barely chew our food because we “don’t have time to eat”, then we skip meeting with a friend that is only in town for the weekend… simply because we won’t make time in our schedule to allow it because of our lists and goals. We miss out on meaningful moments we won’t get back. We may be getting items crossed out on our lists, but are we helping to decrease the stress in our lives by the choices we are making in having a “to-do list” and getting it all done on OUR timeline?
I’m guilty of this. I am. Despite being guilty of it, I’ve genuinely and diligently worked to decrease the amount of stress that I make for myself in my daily life. It’s a day to day, minute to minute work in progress. Stress is everywhere, seen in just about everyone’s life. We can just about grab hold of it from others and make our own. I don’t know about you, but I want a HEALTHY reaction to stress in my life that helps grow me into a heart responding person, the Sympathetic Nervous System responses that we talked about earlier. I want to to be able to identify when my brain is screaming, “Do this!” and instead listen to my heart because my heart KNOWS the truth and the correct responses. And the truth my friends, that’s what sets us free!
As we go about our everyday lives, I hope and pray that we can all decrease not only the amount of stress we have in our lives, but also the pressure of stress that we create for ourselves. We are meant to have healthy amounts of stress in our lives, but all too often it gets out of hand, and I don’t want that for me, for you, or anyone. I’m asking you and myself, “Will we face into the stress in our lives? Will we find out where our stress(es) are coming from and begin to work to change what’s impacting us in a negative way? And lastly, are we each willing to be set free from self-imposed stress so that we can become more healthy and whole from the inside out?”
I’m going to leave off with a quote that I hope encourages you and fills you with hope. But before I tell you what it is, please absorb this information until you believe it with your WHOLE HEART. No matter who you are, what your age, your nationality, your gender, your social status, your education, etc., I want you to know that you’re a beautiful person. You have so much to offer this world that only you can offer. Your entire being is of value and is beautiful. Your life journey is a journal page that only you can write.
“Every journey begins with a first step.” -Unknown
Please, embark on the journey of a lifetime in enhancing you’re already beautiful self from the inside out. Start by listening to your second brain, your heart. You’ve got a heart of gold, so let it shine and share the wealth!