"Fight or flight," the primitive switch that kicks in when our brain senses danger. Automatically, your hypothalamus fires off hard-wired instructions to your body, releasing adrenaline and cortisol while increasing your blood pressure. This powers your arms and legs to run or fight with relentless, fearless intensity.
Unfortunately, this prehistoric circuitry can’t tell the difference between an animal attack and waiting for a biopsy. The effect also reduces your immune responses – which is bad if your stress is over health issues to begin with. To make matters worse, your biological changes create a lens of fear through which you see the world.
What a conundrum.
Relaxation wasn’t part of my conditioning; there were no trophies for it. Understanding now how critical it is to my wellness, I use tools to consciously knock the stress meter down a notch or two.
I commit to relaxing throughout the day; practicing as I encounter challenging people or situations. I practice yoga, meditation, prayer, and tai chi, which are all effective at turning off the mind chatter. It also helps to let go of needing to be right and having to have the last word, making life a lot better in many ways.
Meditation is “relaxation on command,” putting you in the alpha state where the immune system functions at peak. The opposite of being asleep, one is aware of the world without being distracted by the noise, in or out of your head. There are excellent guided meditations on CD, but many meditate by just sitting in silence without distraction and breathing slowly and fully.
Finally, stop worrying. If you spend your life worrying about losing your life, you wasted the time anyway. Live a life of gratitude, embrace living purposefully, and laugh.
Close you eyes . . . breathe deep . . . Ohmmmm.