Most of us know that chronic stress can have a negative impact on our health. While stress is a normal part of life, how we react, often unconsciously, and how we cope with chronic stressors determines our outlook, our energy reserves and our longterm health. These responses have far reaching physiologic effects on our hormones and neurotransmitters, and therefore, over time, our balance and well-being. Developing healthy responses to stress, therefore, is the core of building good health. Easier said than done, as we can’t just stop living our lives.
How do we get beyond giving lip service to this cliche of “needing to lower our stress levels” if our coping mechanisms are unconscious?
Managing stress is a challenging because we have to focus our attention on it, to bring it from the unconscious to the surface or conscious mind. This is sometimes called mindfulness, and it’s a skill that you can learn and improve upon.
To begin the process of managing stress in order to positively impact our health, start a list of what you believe to be your biggest stressors in your life, and then think about in detail the ways these stressors effect your quality of life.
Awareness is the first step to changing habits and our stress response is just that: a habit. Once we’re aware of a habit, we can change it.
The great news is that if you can start the process of mindfulness, it’s a transferrable skill-set to creating both the life you want and the health you need.