Stress is difficult for scientists to define, because it is a highly subjective phenomenon that differs for each of us. Things that are stressful for some individuals, can be pleasurable for others. We also respond to stress differently. Some people blush, some eat more, while others grow pale or eat less. There are numerous physical and emotional responses to stress.
The term “stress”, was popularized by Hans Selye in 1936. He defined it as, “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” During experiments with laboratory animals, Selye discovered that negative physical and emotional stimuli (like bright lights, temperature extremes, and loud noises), led to physical conditions like stomach ulcers and swollen adrenal glands. Over time, this led the animals to develop chronic problems such as heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, which are all things we can be subject to with prolonged exposure to stress.
There are two kinds of stress: the short-term exposure to an event that causes your body to get ready to fight, flight, or freeze, and the long-term exposure, which is a repetition of these short-term exposures over a longer period of time. When we are exposed to a “stressor”, the body’s response is to organize through a release of hormones, and vascular & muscular mobilization, to get us ready to respond to what the “stressor” is. Unfortunately, in this modern age, we are rarely confronted with a “stressor” that allows us to mobilize physically; but physical movement can help us release the hormones floating around, and let go of the physical tension. In the animal kingdom, animals have a “homeostatic” response to stress. As soon as it feels safe to do so, their physical bodies will begin trembling for quite some time until the nervous energy is released. We humans have the capacity to think and “hold” our reactions to those stressors. We stay stuck with it, and eventually a prolonged exposure to these sources of stress, decrease our immune system’s ability to recover, and we become more susceptible to illness and injuries.
There is no coincidence that yoga and other mind-body approaches have been on the rise in the past 10 years. Yet not everyone recognizes stress at its early onset, before it turns to anxiety, depression, or physical illness. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1 person out of every 10 in our current population uses antidepressants. Antidepressants are the second most prescribed type of drug in the U.S., right behind pills for high cholesterol, according to data from IMS Health.
Here is simple fun list that I found on the web:
When I looked back at the past 3 years and where my inner journey has led me–from Epstein Barr and Lyme Disease, to renovating our center and re-launching my coaching practice–I have learned from first-hand experience, the effect of deep stress and its long-term effect on health…and more deeply on our sense of self. Let’s face it, stress can be traced back as far back as early childhood (as it was in my case), and leave an almost permanent imprint on our way of living, slowly depleting us of our vital life force. Twenty-five years ago, when I first went to Kripalu Center, I already “knew” that if I continued to live my life the way I did, I would not last for very long. What I didn’t know was that there are multiple layers to stress and trauma, and that despite my best efforts, I had not gotten to the bottom of it.
I have many healers to thank for my recovery, and I now know that it takes a multipronged approach to healing and recovery. This is why I am excited to invite you to “Nurture Yourself Night” on Monday, February 11th, from 5-7pm. Healing Rhythms’ practitioners will be offering their healing services in 15 minute increments for FREE! Click here for more details about that event. Please know that this is on a first come, first serve basis. You can call each practitioner to book in advance your mini-sessions. Make time for yourself as a way to prevent stress from sinking in deeper. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you soon!