Health and healing are about more than fitness.
Yes, getting on a good sweat releases the tension that can have a lasting effect on the body, mind, and emotions. But it only goes so far. We can learn to understand the roots of our body’s stress responses, and renegotiate how we handle stress and anxiety. This is proactive, and helps us access our whole self, not just parts of ourselves.
Stress is read by the body as a challenge or threat. It sets off the brain’s alarms and sends distress signals to the endocrine system. Our stress hormones then kick in to fuel quick responses. This natural jet fuel is great for sudden emergencies, but if we use it all the time, we get depleted. Constant stress breaks down our ability to ward off various health conditions like depression, heart disease, and diabetes.
Christina Maslach, Ph.D. a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, says that mental and physical exhaustion, cynicism, detachment, a sense of ineffectiveness, and lack are all signs of burnout. We are seeing higher levels of overwhelm than before, probably due to the pandemic. It seems that we have all hit our all-time multi-tasking highs.
Renegotiate how you handle stress.
As our collective stress, overwhelm, and anxiety levels rise, we have an opportunity. We can use these elevated levels to see our stress patterns more clearly. By decoding our stress triggers and coping strategies, we can find ways to do it better.
We are feeling our way towards health with compassion, including self-compassion. Becoming stress-proof isn’t the goal. We all experience stress and anxiety. But we can become more resilient in the face of stress.
Becoming stress-proof isn’t the goal.
We can better choose when to burn the jet fuel of emergency responses, and also learn how to replenish our resources afterward.