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When was the last time that you’ve experienced stress?
A week ago? Yesterday? Maybe even right now?
Regardless of when it occurred, stress is obviously not the greatest feeling, both psychologically and physiologically. I mean, who’s got the time for sweaty palms, butterflies, and shakiness?
As if experiencing these symptoms isn’t bad enough, our stress response often lasts even longer than the actual stimulus that caused it in the first place. Ever felt nervous after a test? Or shaky after a job interview? Sounds pretty useless, doesn’t it?
Not only that, but a lot of the time our stress response doesn’t correspond at all to what situation we’re actually in. Getting alarmed over smaller reasons, like almost dropping your phone, certainly does not require the full blow stress response. But most often times, a full blown stress response is what we get. Thanks, primitive instincts.
And we have none other to blame for all of this than our sympathetic nervous system. Signalling the release for all of those "fight or flight" hormones in our blood is what gives us those dreaded sweat stains, dry mouth, and nausea. Not very sympathetic now, is it?
But what if you could change the way your "sympathetic" system causes you stress? What if you could use it to your advantage, and actually help you to perform better? Often times, people view their stress as a bad thing. Imagine you have a huge test in ten minutes, and you’re starting to sweat and get shaky. Then you begin to get even more nervous because of the reactions that your body is giving you.
Have you ever thought of your body’s reaction to stress as a way to help you succeed? Your body is actually trying to help you. And it does this through more ways than just one:
Increases Your Heart Rate
Increasing your heart rate along with the dilation of your blood vessels gets blood transferred at a faster rate to the muscles all throughout your body. This allows you to physically take action, react quicker, and escape from anything that’s perceived as dangerous. If it’s being chased by your mom or running to that killer sale in your favourite store, you have your nervous system to thank.
Opens Your Airways
Ever heard the term, "just breathe?" Well your stress response is all about that. Opening those airways and getting the air moving is another way for you to more efficiently oxygenate your blood and deliver this essential gas to your brain and every other part of your body. Not only can you "just breathe," but you literally cannot function without it. So thank you, bronchial tubes, for being open and honest.
Releases Cuddle Hormones
Cuddle hormones. C’mon. Who wouldn’t want to have ’em hanging out in their blood stream? These hormones, also known as Oxytocin, actually promote interactions with other people. This is just another sign that instead of bottling things up when you’re stressed, go out into the world and be social! Talk to someone about it! Your body only wants you to escape and have some good conversations, but it also knows what’s best for you.
Reduces Your Need to Go to the Bathroom
I’ll let you decide whether or not you find this helpful.
There are so many other parts of a stress response that actually helps you to succeed. Instead of allowing these things to stress you out anymore than you already are, try to remind yourself that your body is on your side and is doing its own thing to support you with whatever it is you’re challenged with. If it’s going to your new job, or running to catch the bus, your body and its sympathetic nervous system is there for you. It’s like your best friend; always providing support, keeping you on your toes, and preparing you to face challenges. I mean, who even needs a boyfriend when you’ve got such an amazing and well crafted stress response on your side?
But for real, your stress is not a bad thing; it’s good. So next time you feel stressed, remember that you have an added advantage because your body is on your side.
Now you’re truly invincible.
Please take care of yourself,