I have been reading so many fitness articles lately that have just been repeating the same thing over and over. I literally had an article almost finished and decided to change it up and get your mind firing a little faster. Sometimes an article needs to be written about taking care of the inside and strengthening your mind and soul. I have written many fitness articles and find mentally you have to be on your game as well. Actually, it’s probably more important to be mentally fit then what your body looks like on the outside.
Don’t Stress It
Chronic stress can wreak havoc, triggering a host of maladies including heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety.
Neuroscientists are beginning to reveal how chronic stress exacts such a hefty toll. In doing so, they are piecing together how parental stress affects offspring, and how specialized brain cells influence fear and anxiety responses.
Because stress changes the way the brain’s neurons communicate with each other, chronic stress can cause our brains, nervous systems, and our behavior to adjust to a vigilant and reactive state.
That constant vigilance can lead to devastating mental and physical health conditions for the person experiencing it. It can also affect their offspring. It is well-established that maternal stress has deleterious effects on her offspring. Studies show stress changed the expression of genes in sperm and altered its maturation. That may have altered the brain development of their offspring.
Let’s Get Recentered
We all encounter stressful people, situations, and periods in our lives. What makes each of us different from one another are the choices that we make in any given moment.
“I wish I didn’t say” that or “I can’t believe what she/he said” can be avoided if we take a minute to breathe before we just react.
When you temporarily lose your balance, you can reset your internal alignment. This will help you refocus the lens through which you perceive your experiences. In other words, here is how you can calm down and recenter your mental attitude.
The response to short-term stress is critical for survival. It powers the “fight-or-flight” response that allows animals to respond quickly to danger signs. When we are startled, or acutely stressed, the “fear center” of the brain called the amygdala activates our central stress response system. Known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis because it is comprised of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and the adrenal cortex, this stress response system regulates hormones, particularly the stress hormone cortisol. By rapidly increasing glucose levels, speeding the heart rate and increasing blood flow to the muscles in our arms and legs, this stress response allows us to respond to a threat. After the danger has passed, the system works to return hormone levels to normal.
When stress becomes chronic, this system is amped-up all the time. The same hormones that are so important for the fight-or-flight response can lead to digestive issues, trouble sleeping, and a weakened immune system, making a person more susceptible to viruses like the flu and chronic health problems.
Recentering yourself should help to minimize your stress. There are three pillars to finding your center: awareness, attention and intention. When you notice that your life is becoming chaotic and you feel as if you’re losing ground, you can quickly and easily find your center again with resetting and following a few simple steps.
The first step is to become aware that you’re off balance. Awareness is one of greatest tools for creating change. Once you become aware that you’ve lost your center, you have the opportunity to make a conscious choice to shift your internal state.
A conscious choice-maker is someone who makes choices that are designed to unfold higher levels of potential. You must be aware of the need to redirect your energy or focus.
To begin cultivating internal awareness, start each new day or each new project by closing your eyes, taking a few deep breaths and find your happy place (what movie?). Let this vision or sensation become an anchor for how you want to consciously move through your days. Notice how you begin to feel more at peace as you do this, then open your eyes and go about your day.
Attention in Action
The second step is to notice where your attention is being directed in the moment. Attention means you are mindful of what’s swirling around you.
When you come into present-moment awareness, your attention is based in the here and now. This is when you can begin to observe yourself and your environment.
Next, begin to observe your thoughts and feelings. Can you shift the way you’re feeling simply by putting your attention wherever you feel sensation? All change is created in the present moment; it is from this place that you will be able to cultivate the fertile soil needed for the final step.
The third step is to set your intention for how you would like to be able to respond to life’s challenges. An intention is future-based and it’s planted like a seed by putting your attention on it in the present moment. Your intention might be to stop or slow down long enough to make a clear decision. What choices would you like to make in the moment, and what possibilities are available to you?
Whenever you notice that your inner calm has become compromised, take a few minutes to close your eyes and bring your awareness to how you’re feeling in that moment. Walk through your three pillars and remember don’t stress – it is poison for your soul.