In today’s “hustle and bustle” many feel stress is just part of the game. The truth is this; stress, over long periods of time, is physically harming you. We were not meant to live in this place. Science backs it up, and it is actually a bit more intense than you might think. Let me hang out in the scientific realm for a minute.
The effects of chronic stress are detrimental to your well being! We all want to be healthy, so we need to understand this. When we receive a stressor, it knocks us out of homeostasis balance (the ideal state). Dr. Robert Sapolsky (a super smart brain guy) writes:
“Stress is anything in the external world that knocks you out of homeostatic balance, “Sapolsky said. “Let’s say you’re a zebra, and a lion has leaped out, ripped your stomach out. . . this counts as being out of homeostatic balance.”
While this may seem amusing, and certainly is amusing to me (in a morbid way), there is a point he is trying to make about our body’s relationship with stress. The zebra’s reaction to the lion is labeled as stress; the zebra’s entire being is focused on getting the heck out of dodge. The different between us and the zebra is that the zebra’s stress lasts for a few minutes (long enough to run fast), but ours doesn’t have an end. This is chronic stress.
Sapolsky claims stress is actually a good thing. Stress hormones can make you sharper in the short term. A zebra fleeing a lion needs a “boost” and gets that when all its energy and focus is on that lion. Stress is good in this situation and It is completely necessary. The problem is that we, as people, never get away from that lion. Our body, in a way, is focusing its energy on survival… constantly.
To conclude… Stress is good, but a lifestyle of stress is bad. Our body’s energy needs to touch a variety of different things each day. If all your energy is going into work, because you continually stress over work, your brain is not focused on healing or rest. “Survive now! Heal and rest later!”
We owe it to ourselves to learn balance. Our bodies have our backs and are in it for the long haul if we guide them in the right direction. We determine the body’s job. Do you want your body in a constant place of “survival” mode, inadvertently draining your energy and decreasing your dopamine levels? It may be a wild ride, but it will be a short one.
It can be easy to see the relational effects of chronic stress, but overtime, your body will show the effects as well.
Ruenzel, D. (2003). Why zebras don’t get ulcers. Retrieved from http://brainconnection.brainhq.com/2003/03/12/why-zebras-dont-get-ulcers/