We all have stress and we all know what it feels like. But do you know how it actually affects your body, your mind and your health?
We all get stressed for different reasons. Some people will get stressed when they are called on to do public speaking, while others find it fun and enjoyable. Some, being introverts find long periods of required social interaction stressful, and these periods must be followed by solitude. Workplace and career stress are probably some of the biggest contributors to the stresses we feel every day, and to make matters worse, not knowing how to resolve that stress exacerbates the stress and elevates it.
We process stress different ways, and stress does different things to each of our bodies. Some of the common symptoms we feel are headaches, stomach aches, tight shoulders and neck, a sudden realization that we may be forgetting to breathe (don’t laugh…this happens to the writer!), or even chest pains bringing on a panic attack or anxiety. Insomnia is also often brought about by unresolved stress.
Modern science indicates stress drives and exacerbates a number of leading diseases, thereby increasing the mortality rate and driving down the quality of life for average Americans per capita.
Science and medical research are indeed in the past decades coming out with more findings on exactly how stress affects our physical health. How we react to that stress can damage our mental and emotional health as well, which in turn can again affect our physical health. Remember, we are interrelated beings with many facets to our personality and being, and a holistic approach is not to just grab a quick fix to alleviate suffering while not benefitting the body or mind in some tangible or physical way. A higher likelihood of anxious behavior may have an adaptive advantage for less physically fit creatures.
Lab tests on mice2 showed when they are active, soothing neurons in the brain are triggered. When they are then exposed to a stressor, these neurons calm them down.
Fortunately, there are MANY ways to both manage our stress, and also alleviate its effects on our psyche and health. You’ve seen or even experienced a worried husband or anxious mother at the hospital pacing back and forth while waiting for the surgeon to come out and say “The operation was a success” or “You have a new son, and both mom and baby are doing great!” Right?
Indeed walking off stress is not only natural but effective! A 20 minute brisk walk can do a lot towards alleviating anxiety, stress, worry, and help you to resolve, gain a new perspective, and get new energy.
Again, you don’t have to “go all ninja” and pound the pavement, or make it a marathon. Even just a casual stroll can do the trick; calm you down, and make you feel more grounded, centered and even resolved. It’s amazing! As we stated previously, be intentional; exercise mindfully (focusing your attention on the physical sensations you experience as you move). Focused movement helps to get your nervous system back into balance.
For instance, if you are experiencing any kind of panic attack disorder and have an episode, doctors recommend patients to simply walk it off. 20 minutes is the time it takes to process the adrenaline through your system as your body dumps it into your blood stream. A nice 20 minute slow or even paced gait will do wonders for you and produces the same effect as a mild tranquilizer.
Here are ways to make walking more enjoyable:
Walk with a friend
Walk with your dog(s)
Walk with some music – calming of course
Walk outdoors in your favorite nature place.
The fresh air, sunshine, change of venue, and nature will leave you feeling refreshed once again.
Walking is a way that I like to switch gears between tasks as a way to re-focus and get ready for a new shift in my day. For me, it helps me make decisions, and order my priorities in a calm and thoughtful manner. It never fails to help!