Ever give thought to the word ‘stress’? Actually, have you ever considered a time in life when things moved so smooth that ‘stress’ was a distant memory? Think about it – how long ago was it? Unless it was a conscious time-out activity, chances are that a stress-free lifestyle isn’t quite the norm these days. From work-pressure, to relationships and even school assignments and tests, the present age itself has pushed us, all of us, age non-withstanding, into a zone of constricting strain and mental pressure – stress.
In a normally functioning body, the mind-body system is constantly balancing a flux of firing neurons, hormones, processes and emotions – maintaining a state of balance between extremes – generally of the nervous system. In simple words, what goes up must come down; between extremes, there has to be a mid-point. Undue stress and compulsive habits tend to put our systems into a chronic state of extreme.
As a species, our systems are adept at handling life-threatening instances by triggering the fight-or-flight response – an evolutionary systemic response to preserve our existence and safety in times of imminent danger. The response is usually a collective of symptoms – elevated pulse and blood pressure, shunting of blood from digestive processes to the peripheral limbs and skeletal muscles, heightened availability of serum glucose for energy to the muscles to run or fight, perspiration to cool the body, shallow breathing, etc
Interestingly, most of the stress in modern times tends to arise from psychological perception with very little imminent threat to life, yet, our response is just like the fight-and-flight symptoms. Extended periods of stressful experiences may lead to a deterioration in individual health and wellbeing and lead into a host of illnesses, diseases and disorders that are linked to lifestyle choices. Insomnia, diabetes, cancer, anxiety, immunity and digestive disorders, cardiovascular diseases are some of the many conditions that are indicative of stress.
While stress would remain to be an existential truth of life today and it would be practically impossible to eliminate it completely, it is possible to inch away from undue stress response through conscious and gentle shifts. Yoga and meditation has been one of the most highly recommended practices in the management stress. The benefits of yoga and meditation have been experienced as an ongoing accumulation over a regular practice.
Nutrition, plays a keen role in the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis – a state of balance, through a diet rich in wellness-promoting nutritive elements, and where required, adequate supplementation. Ayurveda has a plethora of herbs and nutritive recommendations that can help to support the management of stress.
Over the next few weeks, we shall be looking closely into the various aspects of stress and explore some of the many tools, practices and information that would help in making a stress-free living a distinctive possibility. Watch this space!