10 Aug Back to School – Back to YOU (Stress Management)
Back to School – Back to YOU
As Summer comes to a close, and our “vacation mindset” slowing drifts away, we’re reminded of the busy, hustle and bustle of our normal routines. Our relaxing getaways inevitably end with the beginning of the day-to-day busyness consumed by back-to-school shopping, daily school lunch prep, school dropoff and pickup, and social activities, all while juggling a full-time job.
Talk about stressful!
We all know stress can be harmful. The added pressure we feel can can be overwhelming and affect our work performance, personal relationships, and health. Ultimately, if we’re unable to cope with stress in a positive way, it can hinder our ability to enjoy life and make us sick. That’s why learning to deal with stress is pertinent.
What Causes Our Stress Response?
Our bodies were designed with a trigger response to protect us from physical danger. Also known as the “fight or flight” response, when we feel threatened, our nervous system reacts by releasing adrenaline and cortisol into our bloodstream. This increases our heart rate and blood pressure, in turn allowing greater transport of oxygen so our bodies are able to act quickly. While this stress response helped us in times of immediate, physical danger such as being chased by a T-Rex, it does little to help us with modern worries like whether we’ll make it to Johnny’s soccer practice on time. However, our bodies are unable to distinguish between types of stress and in turn, still react the same.
When Stress Becomes a Problem
Stress in small bouts can actually have a positive influence on our mind and body by improving our memory and performance. It’s when we encounter too much stress, too regularly that it can lead to life-altering illnesses. When our body encounters a stressful situation and goes into a state where it’s trying to fend off danger, all energy is focused on protecting itself from that perceived, immediate threat. As a result, every system in your body that needs energy, but isn’t “required” during a time of stress, shuts down. These non-essential systems include digestive, immune, growth and reproductive. It’s no wonder our health and even libido suffer during increased stress – Ain’t nobody got time for that!
How Meditation Helps Alleviate Stress
Effects of stress help us realize that amongst the constant, daily demands, it’s important to set aside time for ourselves. Meditation is a coping mechanism for stress that is not only FREE, but it can be practiced anywhere and anytime. The benefits of meditation (especially “mindfulness meditation” and living in the present moment) are impressive. It’s be proven to reverse your innate stress response, literally changing your brain.
Here are some benefits of regular meditation practice:
● Slowed breathing and heart rate
● Normalized blood pressure
● Efficiency of oxygen use
● Decreased sweat and cortisol production
● Improved mental clarity and creativity
‘Meditation’ is a term used to encompass methods for achieving a relaxed state of well-being and may include (but is not limited to) any of the following types: guided, mantra, mindfulness, Qi gong, tai chi, transcendental, and yoga. There are even downloadable apps that can coach you through some meditative practices to use in your day-to-day life (see HeadSpace), so there’s no reason to not take a few minutes a day to dedicate to yourself.
Are you taking the time you need every day to manage life’s stressors? Have you ever tried mediation?
-Health & Wellness Coach