Becoming Stress Resilient: Cultivating Peace and Calm


Stress! It is all you hear about these days. You can buy books, attend workshops or listen to audios, all designed to help you "reduce your stress." That is a little odd if you think about it.

For starters, what actually is stress; can you touch it, see it, or move it? No, it is not something physically tangible. Stress is defined as: mental, emotional, or physical strain caused by anxiety or overwork.

So if stress is not a viable thing, then how is it able to cause so much havoc? It has to do with your reaction to the stress producing catalyst or stressor. The frequent choice is to start stressing, which is ruminating on the thoughts of what will happen or what has happened. It is generally not about what is happening at the current moment.

Like a hamster on a wheel, your mind rolls thoughts over and over. It can be mentally exhausting. This lack mindfulness, or awareness of the present, leads people away from peace and harmony and into the poor habit of stressing.

Chronic stress serves no good purpose. It raises blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration, the result of which can increase heart clogging cholesterol and plaque formation. It also releases a chemical and hormonal reaction in the body. Over time this can lead to, or exacerbate, many common health problems.

This propensity for stressful combined with poor diet, lack of engaging physical activity and the epidemic of obesity, equals a dangerous health situation. People are not so much dying, as they are slowly killing them through poor lifestyle choices. It is called preventable illness.

In recent years we have seen a rise in autoimmune disorders. There seems to be a correlation between prolonged stressing and this spike in reported cases. When the stress hormones circulate relentlessly, the body becomes venerable to illness and to break down.

Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline were intended for specific fight or flight situations. If attacked by a bear you would have the sharp reflexes to react quickly, which is a good thing. The problem comes when you routinely react this way to the thoughts you are thinking.

Because the body was not designed to withstand such overstimulation, it results in a population of run-down and mentally fatigued people. Notice I said mentally fatigued. That is because although people may feel physically depleted, the fatigue has not come from an overabundance of physical activity, it is from being overwhelmed by constant mental stimulation.

Chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia both have their roots in mental overstimulation, causing physical manifestations. When the body "shorts-out" mentally, you can also see signs physically. While there are numerous factors that contribute to theseorders, prolonged chronic stress is usually present in all suffers.

To develop resilience one must understand what is happening when you feel anxiety and stressors pushing your buttons. Recognize the patterns and begin insertion focused relaxation to offset the negative hormonal cocktail you have released through stressing. Focused relaxation, such as deep breathing, yoga, stretching, meditation, prayer, tai chi and guided imagery can all be used to elicit a healing relaxation response to neutralize the harmful stress response.

Learning and practicing these techniques can help you to restore your mental and physical balance. The more you engage in relaxation response techniques, the faster you will be able to access that neural pathway again. The mind creates a true path, each time you visit a memory the path becomes deeper and easier to access.

Each memory in your brain has an emotion tied to it. This cellular fingerprint and corresponding emotion are accessed each time to revisit that memory. This works in the negative with things like PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In that case the emotion attached to the memory is traumatic and frightening.

Each time you revisit the memory you strengthened the pathway and bring forth the emotion that is tied to it. In the relaxation model, you are bringing forth a healing and restorative memory that releases positive endorphins and feelings of wellbeing. Using this focused relaxation model you can heal and restore what stress has tried to destroy.

These techniques forge a deep pathway that makes becoming calm and relaxed a more natural part of your behavior. By practicing them regularly you will build up your tolerance to stressors and begin to create youthful resiliency. While you can not control the stressors in life, through focused relaxation, you can begin to control your innate reaction to them.


Source by Lisa Schilling

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