Over stimulated, over caffeinated, and hyperactive, Americans as a whole are way too stressed out. This leads to high blood pressure, obesity, and short tempers affecting everything from family situations to business productivity. But why?
One thing is that Americans load up on stress, because to a certain extent it is good. Challenges get your blood flowing and releases creative and competitive juices in addition to adrenaline. To a point that too many Americans go wayyy past. Too much stress actually causes the body to inflect and produce cortisol and other chemicals that instead of helping the body be stronger and more engaged for longer actually start to break it down. You become mentally and emotionally drained if under too much stress for too long. Short periods of intense stress are fine, but longer ones are counterproductive and potentially emotionally and physically devastating.
So how can you deal with the too much information always on and going on in the world, short of ditching your cell phone and going to a mountaintop? Balance your stresses. Create eustress in your life.
Eustress is a term I first heard Tim Ferriss use a few years ago. It is the opposite of distress, and it is that which pushes you while stimulating. Positive as opposed to negative stress if you will. One way to generate it is to take total breaks from your normal stresses, which reduces them down past the inflection point so that they once more become energizing. Turn the cell phone off during dinner with the family. Stop in the middle of work to walk around the block, or meditate. Watch a Three Stooges clip on your computer and laugh until you cry.
This last one is actually a stress of a different form that allows your body to rest and reset. Similar to the active meditation of doing forms or going for a hard run while wrestling with a problem. They all create a different form of stress on your body that allows your body (and mind) to not focus on the negative pressures and alleviate them partly through a different outlet.
We Martial Artists are actually very good at this shifting to blow off steam. I went to see my Master once after about two weeks of hell at work and he could instantly see that things were not right. Testing my blood pressure it was 200/140. Surprisingly I didn’t have blood coming out of my eyes. “Get downstairs now and do your forms.” 45 minutes later I was back to a fairly normal 130/90. Because of eustress alleviating the distress.
So go do your forms. Take some time and meditate. Go smell a flower, or hit a heavy bag for a few rounds. Create something to oppose the distress in your mind and body so that you can work through these tough times. Use your Arts as Miyagi said “to find balance.”
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