I recently led a yoga workshop called "From Stressed to Savasana." When preparing the content for the post-yoga flow discussion, I took a step back to examine the importance of managing this common emotion.
We all know that constantly feeling stressed doesn’t feel good. But other than not enjoying the way it feels, why is it so important to address?
Because the majority of disease is linked to stress. Over 80% of visits to doctors are stress related, yet only 3% of the time is stress management covered (source).
Stress leads to inflammation in your body, and chronic inflammation leads to disease. When we’re not well (dis-ease) that can make us feel stressed, which then perpetuates the whole cycle (source).
Some stress is good— such as starting a new job that’s a great fit – and the body’s process for managing real threats (like a potential life-threatening situation) is a critical. Unfortunately, we often perceive everyday stressors the same way in the body (video – start at 3:20 and source).
This perpetual stress response increases the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline (source). Imagine you’re being chased by a lion. All of your body’s energy and resources will be spent on preparing you to fight or take flight, leaving minimal energy to be spent on other bodily functions like digesting food. Your body decides that running from the lion takes precedence over digesting that sandwich, and rightfully so!
So, when this same stress response happens daily, you can imagine how much it interferes with your ability to perform normal tasks and feel like your best self.
It inhibits proper digestion and nutrient absorption, clouds thinking, causes anxiety, can bring upon a feeling of being “tired but wired,” increases sugar cravings, weight gain, high blood pressure and more.
So… what do we do?!
Just like the Sympathetic Nervous System is turned “on” – we can turn it “off” by activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS is nicknamed the “rest and digest” system for a reason). There are countless ways to do this, and many are free and fast, making them easy to integrate into our busy lives!