Why Are We So Stressed?

Stress is a natural part of existence.  At least if you’re a human that is.

Stress is a term used to describe  a reflex that the human body has evolved to enable us to deal better with threatening situations.  An example of this is the ‘flight’ or ‘fight’ response, where our body temporarily moves into a state of high alert and readiness in order to rapidly respond to an impending threat.

We each lead lives in a world that is remarkably different to those of our ancestors.  Not surprisingly, the stimuli that trigger stress have changed as well.  Now, rather than stress being triggered by an immediate threat to your existence, such as a wild animal trying to eat you, stress can be triggered by things such as phone bills or impending work deadlines – neither of which actually pose any immediate threat to your existence.  What’s more, these stressors tend to continue as stress events beyond just a few moments, leading to a state of chronic stress.

The ‘stressed state’ was not meant to be a prolonged.  It was designed to cope only with acute threats or short-term stress triggers.  Chronic stress ultimately results in depletion of your body’s resources and greatly diminishes its capacity to function correctly.  There are a number of theories about how the body copes with stress that you can read about here.

Arthur De Vany notes that “the most common reason people will feel ‘stressed’ in today’s environment is when they lose their feelings of freedom and self-control.”

How common is that!  How often do you feel like you’re at the mercy of something beyond your control or outside of your ‘sphere of influence’?

So what can you do?

I think there are two really effective ways to alleviate stress in your life.

  1. Strive for simplicity.  Cut out the fat.  Make a list of the top 3 things in your life that you really love doing and then endeavour to remove everything else from your life.
  2. Stay present.  Live in the moment.  Chronic stress prevails when you are constantly thinking about the future or the past.  By taking each moment as it comes, you remove the control that stressful events can have over your life.

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