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Stress! Healthy or Cumbersome?
Stress exists in many forms and people’s levels of stress can vary.
Some people are more sensitive to stress and it is easier for their stress levels to rise.
There are others who only get stressed in extreme situations.
Stress is a very natural response.
Many, many years ago, when we were hunters and living off the land, our stress sensors would go off anytime we sensed danger. Animals, enemies, and environmental changes all triggered the stress radar and in response, our bodies released hormones which ultimately lead us into the “flight or fight” response.
There are times in our modern lives where we are faced with real danger, real fear and our brains and bodies will follow a similar patterns that our ancestors did.
However, many of today’s triggers are different, for instance, financial difficulties, relationship problems, sickness, death, losing a job or moving. These are considered extremely stressful for most people.
The stress response is very real: it is an emotional as well as physical feeling.
Emotionally we may feel fear, tension, tiredness, inability to concentrate, irritability, or trouble sleeping. Physical symptoms can include, chest pain, shortness of breath, excessive sweating, dry mouth, muscle tightness and more.
One of the things many people do when they are stressed, myself included, is eat.
Eating for many of us seems to provide comfort, which is why we turn to our favorite food, snack or dessert. For some people, it takes their mind off a stressful topic during the time they are eating. In some ways, the food becomes the action we do to distract ourselves.
Our ancestors probably didn’t eat.
A full stomach slowed you down, digestion made you tired and food preparation took time, and possibly could give away your location. Our ancestors usually needed to take action at the time of a stressor, possibly take shelter, hide, move from place A to B, hunt or kill.
I believe that the action, that comes after a stress response is natural it helps us put all that extra nervous energy somewhere. I hypothesize that that is one of the reasons we stress eat. Eating can take up time, thought and action.
I am moving soon (within Miami) and I am stressed and struggling with my own eating habits that come along with this stress.
I try to think of other actions I can take that will distract me.
Some are practical, like packing, finding boxes, throwing things out! A very useful tool is exercise, in any shape or form.
Getting out and using that energy for a walk, swim, bike ride or anything else can help put that extra energy somewhere useful.
It is hard but not impossible to use that extra energy for something good.