A stress-free life? Can there be such a thing? Stress is a part of our lives, and our bodies have adapted to dealing with certain types of stress. When we encounter dangerous situations for example; our ‘Flight or Fight’ responses kick in. Our bodies produce the chemicals adrenaline and cortisol that prepare us to either make a hasty retreat or prepare for battle. So what happens to our bodies during this ‘Flight or Fight’ response? Well for starters;
- Our heart beats faster
- We breathe more rapidly to provide our bodies with more oxygen.
- Our muscles contract to provide protection against bodily injuries (Bracing for impact).
- Our digestive system speeds up to give our muscles extra nutrients.
- Our pupils dilate to aid our vision, and our hearing becomes sharper.
- The blood in our bodies clot faster, and our arteries constrict. This keeps us from losing too much blood if we are ever cut. Have you ever heard someone remark that they are so angry, that if they were cut there wouldn’t be any blood? It’s a favorite saying in Jamaica, so I understand if it’s foreign to you. That’s because the arteries have tightened to reduce blood flow.
Nature has given us everything we need to deal with stress and to live a healthy life. Unfortunately, our bodies respond similarly to every day or chronic stress. When we get stuck in traffic, when we have issues with someone at work, when technology doesn’t work the way it should, when there is a long line at our favorite fast-food restaurant, when the person in front of us at the check-out counter decides to pay with coins and coupons, or
when we get stopped by police unnecessarily. That last one should be extremely stressful and a warranted response if you are Black in America.
The long-term effects of stress have a negative impact on our bodies. When we respond negatively to stress, it wears our bodies down and eventually weakens our immune system and overall health. If we can control our responses to adverse or ‘stressful’ situations, then we can control the effects of stress on our bodies.
Most of us are so ‘busy’ and caught up in the rat race that we can’t help but be stressed on a daily basis. If you find yourself overly stressed, here are some tips you can use to lighten your mood and bring some calm to your day or life.
- Listen to music. Keep your favorite tunes on your smartphone so you can play them whenever it gets too hectic.
- Sing. Singing should not be restricted to the shower or your car. If you find yourself in a situation where you want to scream or shout, sing instead.
- Puzzles. When it gets too complicated, crossword puzzles might be the answer.
- Have a drink…of water with a lemon twist.
- Read a magazine or newspaper. Even that can be stressful, you might want to stick to the sports section or comics.
- Look up in the sky. Like John Denver said: Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.
- Stress balls. If your boss or partner keeps ‘busting your balls,’ stress balls might be the way to go. A hard squeeze in tight situations might relieve some tension.
- Exercise. Do ten jumping jacks, go for a walk or go to the gym. Do whatever it takes to shake that monkey off your back.
- Jokes. A good laugh is a great way to lighten the mood. Have a coworker or friend tell you a joke or find some online.
- Meditation. Step away from the action, close your eyes and take some deep breaths.
Most importantly, remember.