When was the last time you were excited about Mondays? The urge to shun this particular day is understandable among the collective working group. But did you know that homemakers are just as stressed as their other half? There aren’t any weekends for them either! Stress is a daily friend we carrying on our backs from mornings to midnights. One half of it motivates you to work better and escape danger, but the other darker half can be lethal to your well-being. Illness, leaky-gut, emotional threats, headache, due bills, heartbreak, angry boss etc are all common stress-inducing scenarios.
Human evolution and stress
‘Stress kills’ is a popular euphemism of the 21st century. Your ancestors would probably disagree because it is only half true. Stress did not kill the caveman. Diseases, starvation and wild animals did. This is known as ‘acute stress’. The modern version of his state has more to do with tax payments, emotional threats, and mental disorders and is thus called ‘chronic stress’
Acute stress – Hunger, home and protection were some of the basic needs of the caveman. At most, they needed to be alert for any dangers lurking around the corner. But once the danger subsided, they returned to their daily life quite happily. This was stress in its acute form. Think about it. If you were being chased by a big toothed sabre cat or grizzly bear, you’d probably thank stress for giving you the mental boost to run for your life. Acute stress will literally save your life and force you to equip yourself for any danger. Your body goes into acute stress when you have a fever so that it can start fighting off the infection. The body of a man who has his hand cut off will immediately go into acute stress to provide enough clotting so that he doesn’t bleed to death.
Chronic stress – this kind of stress contributes to loads of modern-day health concerns like diabetes, depression, anxiety, ulcers, obesity etc. The term ‘stress kills’ is perfectly referring to ‘chronic stress’. The modern day man has the nervous system of the caveman and chronic stress is basically acute stress which won’t turn off. It lingers on for days and even years, contributing to a multitude of physical and mental disorders. Paying taxes, social media bullying, going to work on time, dealing with a client, racial discrimination, etc., are some modern-day chronic stressors which last for long periods of time.
Our biology and nervous system were designed to fight off scenarios of acute stress which are short in duration. These are types which our ancestors were exposed to, like living in the wild, hunt for food, escape predators and protect their territory. All these problems were short-lived and did not drag for days on end unlike waiting for your next paycheck every month. Like animals, they socialized and relaxed together once the danger had been dealt with instead of sitting around in fear waiting for the next threat.
10 ways to deal with 21st-century stress
1) Go to bed early and wake up early – The caveman was never a night owl. Hence, he got his work done. Did you know that almost all successful people are early risers? If you are a night owl and can work fine then great! But you lack motivation and tend to procrastinate often than sleeping early would be a good thing to try. Getting a maximum of 8 hours of sleep will improve your adrenal glands (which are responsible for stress) and freshen you up. Similarly, waking up early you will have enough time on your hands, thereby giving you enough motivation to tackle all your tasks in time.
2) Get lots of sun – Sunlight has a profound impact on your mental well-being. Studies have proved that depression rates rise during fall or winter due to lack of natural light. A lack of vitamin D is responsible for anxiety and nervous disorder in patients suffering from fibromyalgia. You do have access to vitamin D pills, but most of them are synthetic and can cause side effects. Sunlight and ultraviolet light have several advantages to health. It supports energy production, repairs old cells in the body and increases serotonin levels, thereby lifting up your mood and reducing anxiety. If you’re worried about getting a tan, go ahead and put on a high SPF sunblock! Get plenty of natural sun exposure and observe a positive reaction in yourself.
3) Go for long walks and spend time in nature – Hours and hours of sitting in front of a screen can not only damage your eyes but your mental health too. Our bodies were never meant for sitting for long periods for time. Cavemen hunted most of their lives and when they weren’t hunting they scouted their territories or socialized with their tribe. The introduction of a four-wall workspace system has efficiently robbed us of the need to connect with nature. Long walks for at least 4 minutes are increase serotonin levels and keep stress at bay. It can hugely impact eye health too. If you suffer from bad eyesight just looking at far objects and then switch to near ones. This helps repair ciliary muscle of the eye, thereby improving eyesight.
4) Meditate and practice yoga – Believe it or not, yoga and meditation is the perfect antidote to a nerve-racking, hectic lifestyle. A vast amount of evidence backs up this science, which is fused with healing and regeneration. It can heal a lot of bad symptoms emerging for a bad lifestyle. It can boost immunity, decrease cardiovascular risk, and improve heart rate and blood pressure. Yoga and meditation reshapes your brain and makes it fully equipped to deal with negative thought, emotions, fear and anxiety. If you think it doesn’t help in weight loss think again! It is proven that the yoga alone makes your mind aware of what you eat, hence making you mindful of your diet. A daily dose of yoga and meditation can instantly change a bad day to a good one. Yoga can be performed anywhere! Having a panic attack just lie down in Shavasana and take deep breaths. Repeating the word ‘Om’ while sitting in padmasan can decrease anxiety and and balance breathing, thereby recusing stress.
5) Eat the right food – French fries, ice cream and pizza do work for reducing stress temporarily. But did you know that they have enough sugar in them to raise your insulin and anxiety levels? Comfort food can be… well, comforting, but for for a moment. Not being mindful when you eat can be demotivating later and can make you feel insecure about your choices. Ultimately it can also give you a multitude of diseases. The caveman never had a burger to save himself. He had fruits, vegetables and meats! Here are some natural stress-busting foods you should buy right now! Asparagus, avocado, blueberry, dark chocolate (yes!), almonds, oranges, salmon, bananas, spinach, turkey, cucumbers and cashews are all super foods that can reduce unhealthy craving and satisfy your appetite.
You cannot outrun stress, but you can keep it at bay and only deal with it when you’re ready. These tips help you sneak in a break to relax and make you aware that most of the stress is created in our minds which is another kind of ‘chronic-stress’. So make these tips a part of your daily lifestyle and work towards being a more mindful you.