The Stress Factor

Is it possible that stress can help us become more conscious? Stress has a negative connotation because of the havoc it wreaks in our lives. Even making time to sit and read this article was probably stressful. Unfortunately, stress consumes us. Perhaps that is why there are countless articles, workshops, and classes revolved around stress management. Where is the imbalance stemming from? Could our level of consciousness be equivalent to how overstressed we are? We have numerous demands placed on us every day and we are so busy getting ready for school, work, and meetings that we are losing sight of the beauty and humor around us. We are putting stress on our body, physically, however, the stress of everyday situations we are experiencing could be mental, and therefore exist only in our mind.

I view stress as resistance to the present moment, whatever that moment might be. Even if sitting in traffic because of an accident is going to make us late, we have the ability to choose our response to the present situation. What usually happens is we react based on fear. We fear how others perceive us, our credibility, that we will not get that raise; worry plagues us! Regardless of our reaction to the traffic, the same outcome exists; we are going to be late! Therefore, which type of response would keep us calm and come from a more centered place? In choosing a response, rather than reacting is more in alignment with being conscious and therefore, more at peace with what is. After all, we cannot change circumstances in life, only our attitudes about them. Just like anything else, mastering this takes practice! We need to stop going into an automatic reaction and instead, pause. If we do catch ourselves going into a reaction, stop, and laugh! We need to become aware, and stop the worrying, complaining, and negative story that we tell ourselves. By breaking up the energy and stopping our reaction, we become present, and in doing so we are not only doing a service to our own peace of mind, but since we are made of energy, we are literally changing the energy around us. Nevertheless, if we continue to resist life and go into a reactive state on the outside, what is this doing to us on the inside?

The human body’s nervous system has two sub systems. One for rest and repair, referred to as the parasympathetic system, and the other is for “fight or flight” mode, referred to as the sympathetic system. When we are just lying down on the couch after eating dinner, our parasympathetic system is functioning to digest our food. This system is responsible for regulating all body processes that take place while we are at rest. The sympathetic system prepares the body to fight or to run, and the intelligence of its purpose is solely for survival means. When the sympathetic system is activated, our saliva glands do not produce saliva (so we experience dry mouth), our pupils dilate, digestion halts, if we had to use the bathroom, we no longer have the urge, and blood being pumped to our heart is working extensively so we can breathe harder and faster in order to run for our lives. Although some people run, most of us are fighting the present moment with symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, hyperventilating, and shortness of breath. In addition, activation of the sympathetic system releases cortisol into the bloodstream to give us that extra boost of energy to fight. However, the overstimulation of cortisol is unnecessary, and the abundance causes an imbalance that suppresses the immune system, and serves to initiate the onset of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. In summary, our sympathetic system should not be functioning unless we are at risk for imminent danger because normal body processes shut down in order to prepare for the threat to our survival. This goes to show that diseases of the body really do start in the mind. The relationship between our thoughts, and what our body experiences, are directly related.

The stress factor is prevalent today because our body is responding to everyday situations, not for what they truly are, but rather from the perspective of something they are not. Remembering that each day, what we face are just experiences, reminds us that we can be neutral about our day-to-day routines, without the opinions of our mind. It is that story we are telling ourselves when we are in “stressful situations” that triggers the sympathetic system. Our thoughts are real, they are energy, and they have power! We must let our thoughts become imaginative and creative instead of worrisome and negative, and keep in mind the law of attraction, letting that be our anchor out of weakening thoughts and onto uplifting ones that are in alignment with the outcome we wish to experience. We need to make friends with what life has to offer, stop driving ourselves crazy, and remember that with each breathe we can inhale loving thoughts, and exhale stressful ones!