Life is full of surprises – get ready for them.
Fortunately, over thousands of generations, your body has developed incredible physiological coping mechanisms for adapting to stress. Unfortunately, this genetic adaptation didn’t involve adapting to sustained, chronic or long-term stress (with one exception – up until the last four hundred years or so, the only true chronic or long-term stress that man ever knew was periodic famine).
Key Strategies for Stress Reduction:
- get enough sleep
- eat fresh, whole foods
- get regular exercise (you only have to workout on the days you eat 🙂 )
As mentioned previously, it’s hard to live a healthy lifestyle in today’s unhealthy world. It’s even harder to avoid stress – schedules (yours, your spouse’s, your kids, your work), traffic, finances, and ironically, your health or lack of it. Today, our seemingly never-ending stress is resulting in non-stop stress-hormone production that is undermining our health.
Specifically, a hormone called cortisol is released in times of stress. Among other things, cortisol promotes the accumulation of the intra-abdominal or visceral fat called omentum – also known as ‘stress gut’. The body’s creation of belly fat was originally intended for sustenance during the long, cold winter months when game was harder to come by. Today, we face a veritable triple-whammy with drive-thru burger joints, a horrific sedentary lifestyle, and an abundance of physical, emotional and/or mental stress (or most often, all three)
The stress hormones change our global physiology and create a derangement of our metabolism. In other words, chronic stress promotes:
- fat storage
- high blood pressure
- elevated blood sugar
- elevated blood fats
- compromised immune function
Do you see how chronic stress leads to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease and cancer?
(And massive profits for pharmaceutical companies)
Our modern ‘unnatural environment’ has led to an epidemic of stress-induced chronic disease. Beyond the negative aesthetic of having a ‘gut’, omentum is considered one of the strongest predictors of heart disease and cancer. This fat influences the hormones that regulate blood pressure. Ironically, this same brilliant hormonal mechanism that helped man adapt and overcome the chronic stress of yesterday is at the center of the number one killer of man today.
So what’s a human to do? Healthy people develop coping mechanisms.
At the crux of almost everyone’s mental stress are the demands placed on our limited resources; namely our time, energy, focus and money. The world seems to have an insatiable appetite for these things; everyday it seems that there are more demands and fewer resources. In the economy of your life, you must recognize the need for strategies that protect your limited resources. If you are to be truly happy – and find peace of mind – we must strive to master managing these four assets. For example, in the area of money or personal finances, creating a ‘Peace of Mind Account’ is one of those coping strategies that lead to a desired outcome.
Healthy people don’t necessarily experience less stress; they simply develop better strategies and coping mechanisms for dealing with it. Choose healthier perspectives and responses to stress; for example, go to bed earlier so you can get up earlier and spend time with … yourself (writing in a journal, praying, meditating, planning your day/week, exercising). If reading the news, or being on Facebook leaves you feeling ‘less-than-great’, stop spending time looking at sensationalist (negative) headlines, or scrolling through stuff that’s stressing you out (or simply ‘Unfollow’ those people or pages that annoy/stress you).
Equip yourself with best practices and vital behaviors that have been proven effective by everyday people in real world settings.