Stress to Energy..(2)
First we need to be aware of how stress affects us, how we feel, where we feel the tension, the reaction. We acknowledge it. We accept it as a fact. Then we ask ourselves how we can learn to deal with it.
And that question is key. It opens the mind to the possibility that we can do something about it.
We begin to think in terms of possibility.
Stress has too often been accepted as the inevitable collateral over which we’ve no control.
Maybe we can’t control it, but we can manage it, harness it, modify it, use it to fire the mind and the body into useful action.
Once we know how we feel when we’re stressed, we become aware of what triggers it. The triggers will reveal themselves as we react to them.
Stress is a physical reaction; our bodies react. Adrenaline pumps into the system, the heart beats faster, breathing quickens, becomes shallow, muscles tense and clamp the blood vessels, making the heart beat faster and harder again. Oxygenated blood rushes to the organs and limbs to help us fight or flee. Used as nature intended, this can fuel us with the energy and power to react to a situation that will spend that force; we can run from a rabid dog, we can disarm an assailant, or run from him. In the stressful state, our arms will be swift and strong, and our legs may develop unbelievable speed.
But most stressors are different today, they’re brown envelopes, or forgotten tax dates, or anniversaries, or birthdays, or demands on our time, or patience, or money. We can’t fight them, or run from them. But our physical reactions are the same, because the body doesn’t know the difference between real physical danger and perceived mental danger.
Muscles tense, heart speeds up, breathing accelerates, our whole physiology changes into a physical, mental, emotional state of turmoil, seeking to run, or fight, or hide. Our bodies gear up for hard physical expression. But there is nothing from which to flee, or to fight. So the condition stays within us, unspent.
We simmer and seethe.
Thinking becomes confused. This makes everything worse; realising that we’re not thinking right unnerves us further, we descend into a feeling of inadequacy and helplessness.
The whole system can run out of control. We can end up in a state of mindless, brainless, useless panic.
And what has caused it, is not so much the situation with which we’re faced, but how we’ve allowed ourselves react to it.
So that’s the second step; seeing stress as a part of the human condition, understanding that it’s a part of who we are, and realising that we have the resources to learn how to manage it.
Stress is a fact of life. We now know, and science is substantiating what we’ve always believed, that there are ways we can train our minds and bodies to respond in another way.
It’s about being conditioned.
That’s a separate issue. The mind and the body are linked every single second of the day. Untutored, they tend to react instinctively to problems. That’s the Stress Response.
With awareness and attention, they can be trained to respond differently. This is what Dr. Herbert Benson called, the Relaxation Response.