When you notice you’re stressed, does a little tiny part of you start freaking out?
"I shouldn’t be stressed, stress is bad, stress will give me cancer…again!
Oh no, now I’m stressed about my stress levels!
Save me from mysellllllfff!"
Sound familiar? Yup, I’ve been there too.
Well read on my friend, and I promise by the end you’ll be feeling like you just smoked a reefer whilst getting a massage on a tropical island surrounded by pretty fish.
Point 1 - Stress is part of being alive.
You are alive, right? Therefore, you will from time to time experience the tensions associated with being alive. No point fighting this one, in fact its great evidence that you are, in fact, alive!
Point 2 - Stress is not necessarily bad.
Ah, excuse me?
Yes, that’s right, it's actually being stuck in a state of chronic stress that’s bad.
Let's go a bit deeper here. The stress response in our body releases cortisol, adrenalin and inflammatory factors. These stress mechanisms have been proven to have a slowdown effect on the immune system that can contribute to the growth and spread of cancer. Not ideal.
However! Our system was designed to experience stress and we have a system designed especially for handling it and then moving on – our automoic nervous system.
Let me give you an example.
Ever seen those documentaries where a zebra is eating grass peacefully on the savannah? It’s parasympathetic nervous system (rest, repair and digest system) is engaged.
(Cue exciting music…..) next minute its running for its life chased by a lion – how’s it so fast? It’s switched into its sympathetic nervous system – fight or flight (or die!). If its lucky enough to escape, 10mins later we can pan back to the same relaxed zebra, quietly munching away like nothing happened (back to rest, repair and digest).
That too, is how we are meant to operate. Mobilizing energy when required, then calming down quickly afterwards.
The point isn’t that we encounter stress, we will (see Point 1)! The point is, that we were designed to move easily between our two autonomic nervous systems – the fight or flight (sympathetic) and the rest, repair and digest (parasympathetic) systems.
It’s only when we get stuck in a constant state of high alert, and are stressed with no let-up day after day after day that we get into difficulties.
So we need to find ways that work for us to release our tensions regularly.
And it gets better, wait for it.....
Point 3 - Not only is stress not necessarily bad, a certain amount of stress is healthy and has been shown to stimulate our inner resources and natural defences to work better!
Rats who received a series of uncontrollable shocks, plus more additional shocks that they were able to turn off with a lever were found to reject tumours at a higher rate than a control group who had no shocks , and another group who were given just the first series of shocks.
The rats under the most stress, fared the best! Why? Because they were taking control of their situation! They were not helpless, and the effects of having to do so improved their immune system and the ability to fight cancer. In this situation, it was the level of helplessness, and not the stress itself which was important.
What does that mean for you?
Whatever you do, don’t get stressed about being stressed!
Now if you’re looking for some inspiration for releasing your tensions, check out an oldie but a goodie post here on the benefits of breathing.
Yes, literally just breathing. Have you noticed I like to keep things simple?!
For other simple to use techniques to help you feel normal again after cancer make sure you join the upcoming Life 2.0 course – starts March 7th!
One of the other ways I choose to release my tensions is via mindfulness. I currently teach the staff working in the high-pressured hospitals of Counties Manakau how to be more mindful. Due to a number of requests I’m going to run one 8-week public course this May. If you’d like to be on it, then please register your interest here and I’ll be in touch with more details.
As always, be good..... or if you're being bad, make sure you're enjoying it!