Is stress a bad word? Seems that is a buzzword and catch-all explanation for most of our woes. I recently attended an amazing workshop given by Dr. Nick R.S. Hall on the topic of nutrition, mental health, and the brain. Entwined in his teachings for the day was discussion about how the body deals with stress. Dr. Hall works with elite athletes on improving their performances at a training resort in Florida. He pointed out that we all need stress. Stress is required to cause growth. On a physical level, our muscles respond to stress, by regenerating, and building more muscle tissue. If we did not work out, push our muscles, cause stress to them, nothing would change (they might atrophy, but certainly would have no reason to grow). So stress in and of itself is not bad. We have to look at it in context of our life. In the work place, we need to be challenged, stretched, pushed in order to learn new skills, to grow and develop professionally. In our relationships we learn and grow from less then optimal situations. Stressors force us to change, to grow to explore new options for coping, relating, living.
So in a nutshell, stress is not inherently bad. The problem is when we are under chronic stress. Our bodies, brains, hearts, need a break, time to regenerate, grow, reflect, recover. When the body is under ongoing stress all sorts of problems occur, which I will save for another post.
Take home message for you today? Rest, vacation, go for a walk, turn off the news and read a story to your child, snuggle with your spouse, mediate, breath, do yoga. Make it a priority to take time to regenerate. No matter how stressful other parts of your day or week, take time to recooperate.
Take excellent care of yourself!