Let’s face it. Stress is here to stay. It’s probably a lifelong companion. And that’s not a bad thing. Our bodies are triggered to respond to stress as a survival mechanism.
However, stress is also a killer. It lies at the root of a host of lifestyle diseases. And even if it doesn’t manifest in disease, it can and does severely compromise the quality of life.
So, it’s best to learn how to tackle stress. And more importantly put the knowledge to work.
Fight or flight
Mankind evolved over millennia facing repeated threats to survival. In every situation, man literally kept himself alive by relying on his stress response. A perceived threat fires up stress hormones within the body, which in turn, prepares a person to either stay and fight the threat or take flight.
Cortisol is the primary stress hormone. When released under stress, cortisol increases blood glucose levels, just one among the many effects cortisol has on the body. More glucose is directed to the brain and the muscles, preparing the body to fight or if that isn’t a viable option, then flee. This mean, glucose is temporarily diverted from other organs such as those of the digestive system.
To illustrate the point imagine you are fast asleep and are woken up by a loud sound. What happens? Most likely, you would have come awake almost instantly. Now notice what happens to your body. Your heart starts beating faster, your breath shortens, your major muscles — those in your arms and legs — tense up.
It’s only when you figure out where the noise came from and that it isn’t a threat, that you relax.
However, what happens when your body is under constant stress with one situation after another firing up those stress hormones. The situation could either be life-threatening, or something as mundane as being stuck in traffic or working furiously to meet multiple deadlines. If the body cannot turn off those stress hormones, then the physiological effects — rapid heart rate, elevated blood pressure, increased blood glucose levels, tense muscles etc — manifest as disease.
What do we do?
First recognize situations that cause you stress. They differ from person to person. To become more mindful of them, try writing them down. Over the course of a week, note down all those times you found yourself becoming stressed.
Now go back and check what you could have done differently to reduce the stress you were under. Maybe you might want to reduce multi-tasking and focus on one thing at a time; or maybe you are not giving yourself adequate time to complete a project. Or maybe you need to take some time out to meditate or do some breathwork to calm your thoughts.
Try and be conscious of both stages. In the first place, what is causing you stress and how can you reduce and keep such situations to the bare minimum? Secondly what can you do post-crisis to bring balance back to your body?
How Yoga can help
At Pratimoksha, we always recommend that you practice Yoga in a holistic way. That’s when Yoga becomes a way of life. It becomes a resource that you can use all through the day, all through your life. Obviously we are urging you to look beyond the pose, beyond the physical.
Inculcating the discipline of Yoga helps one work towards balance in all aspects of life. One starts moving the blocks of our lives in such a way that we achieve work-life balance. Such a lifestyle has time for exercise, nourishing food, recreation, social bonding and fulfilling relationships.
Yoga, at its highest levels, leads the practitioner to a state of consciousness that neither becomes overly excited nor unduly depressed by external events. One learns the path of equanimity when faced with anything that life throws at you.
Now who wouldn’t aspire to this?
Learn more about how you can achieve this for yourself. Call us at 050 3955613.
For a video on stress tune into