No matter how wonderful being in a relationship with someone is there will always be stressful times and challenges. Relationships reveal to us who we are and the personal growth we need to do. Stressors like: Worrying about money, the economy, your children, your job, etc. trigger the release of adrenalin and stress hormones such as cortisol. When chronically stressed, we tend to be at our worst in relating and coping. We often trigger stress in others which creates a reinforcing loop adding to the malaise.
“Over time, stress hormones have devastating consequences to health. Robert Sapolsksy, PhD., the foremost authority on stress states: “If you turn on the stress response chronically for purely psychological reasons, you increase your risk of adult onset diabetes and high blood pressure. If you’re chronically shutting down the digestive system, there’s a host of gastrointestinal disorders you’re more at risk for as well.” Long-term stress suppresses the immune system, making you more susceptible to infectious diseases, it can shut down reproduction by causing erectile dysfunction and disrupting menstrual cycles. Chronic stress impairs brain function such as creativity and problem solving. Research also shows “stress to be a smoking gun in early onset of Alzheimer’s and senile dementia”.** (Singh- Kalsa) Neurons in the parts of the brain relating to learning, memory and judgment don’t function well under chronic stress and have been shown to die off.
We must find ways, habits of thought and strategies to bring balance back to our lives. Everyone is different and each may find their own formula that works best. Here are practical things we can do to find greater joy, balance and meaning to life.
First, we need to do something every day that is relaxing that we like to do just for the sake of it. For me, I find that meditation is an ideal way to start off the day. I visualize what I want to accomplish and experience. I set an intention for the impact I want to have from my classes, seminars and coaching. I find this really works.
Exercise is another stress buster. Daily exercise flushes out stress hormones and gives a fresh perspective on things. Robust amounts of research also show a link between a poor diet, mood and chronic diseases. Processed food, sugars found snack foods and soft drinks are linked to obesity, high blood pressure, ADD, moodiness, low energy as well as inflammatory diseases. A diet rich in unprocessed foods, fruits, and fresh vegetables gives our bodies the fuel needed to repair itself. A “healthy” diet helps us have more energy, sex drive and vitality.
Cultivating an optimistic attitude also enhances our coping skills. Optimism can be learned. If we can be more accepting of our current life situation without judging ourselves, and learn from each of our difficulties... a profound shift starts taking place. We start to see our situation as a necessary part of our growth and development. Problems no longer are things we dread and fear but are seen as needed developmental opportunities for us to grow and become more capable and mature** .” (Holzman) Shifting to an intention and a belief that I can do it helps rewire our brains, trigger more positive emotions and helps us to take more productive actions.