Helpful Hints for Managing Stress. Part 1

Stress is a fact of life. If we are alive and living we are going to experience some kind of stress. When stress accumulates it becomes unhealthy and this kind of stress takes conscious management to control. Conscious management requires that we become aware of ourselves, of how our body works, and of how our thoughts and feelings affect our body’s inner balance and harmony.

The process that keeps our body’s physiology in balance is called homeostasis. Homeostasis is a function of the inner wisdom and intelligence of the body. When stress accumulates, homeostasis can become inhibited. In fact, stress can inhibit homeostasis to such an extent that the body’s physiological systems go haywire and lose their ability to maintain good health. When this balance is affected, it also affects our emotions, compounding our stress and creating a viscous cycle of stress and stressful responses. When several of these cycles of stress are operating simultaneously, we may experience chronic physical pain and an inability to realize our full potential. As we accumulate more and more stress, our immune system gradually shuts down leaving us susceptible to all manner of pathogen and physical illness. Illness is simply a message from the body for us to rest, reduce our stress level and take stock of our situation.

A rubber band airplane provides a perfect illustration how our physiology accumulates stress. Remember the rubber band airplanes you played with as a kid? What happened when you turned the propeller to wind it up? At first, the rubber band begins to twist doesn’t it? Then it accumulates a row of knots, one by one. As you keep winding it, you quickly collect knots over knots over more knots, don’t you? What happens if you keep on winding? You know … the accumulated stresses on the rubber band and airplane’s  frame collapses under the load. Our human physiology is very much like that rubber band airplane. Stressful events in our life tend to turn our propeller and wind us up. Indeed, our body’s physiology can become wound up in the literal sense of the word. When this physiological and emotional stress reaches a critical point, symptoms begin to appear. These symptoms are the body’s way of giving us negative feedback in the form of chronic pain and physical distress. It is a SOS from the body, asking us to make changes and take positive action to release our accumulated stress.

Now, it is true that the human body is quite resilient and can handle a lot of stress for a long period of time. In fact, we can become quite accustomed to the growing level of stress in our body and often think nothing of it. But at some point in our life, our “rubber band” will break and that’s when illnesses typically take hold.

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