Welcome to Format Free Friday, when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life: Unsolicited Advice.
OK, maybe calling your emotional responses choices is unfair of me. After all, I make a living by helping clients develop emotional muscles (EM’s) because without EM’s, emotional responses are at best automatic and often automatic and unconsciously driven. Regardless, I’ve chosen my words carefully because I believe that if your emotional responses aren’t choices, it’s because you’ve chosen not to put in the work to develop emotional muscles. Either way, at the end of the day, it’s a choice you make. But let’s get back to the point:
Emotional responses absolutely affect your health. Today I want to talk about the danger of negative emotional responses, specifically stress responses. If you’re having multiple stress responses a day, this post is for you, so listen up.
Our psychological response to stress is rooted in our evolution. It’s what kept us alive when we were faced with a threat to our lives, like a saber tooth tiger. In instances such as the one I’m referencing, our fight or flight response is what propelled us into action so that we would stay alive and the human race could continue.
We no longer need this physiological response because, thankfully, the vast majority of us don’t live each day with our lives in danger. Nonetheless, our fight or flight response to stressful situations still resides in us. It’s like a vestigial organ. And our body’s inappropriate response to stress comes with a price.
The body doesn’t distinguish between physical and psychological threats. Consequently, things such as deadlines, overstimulation, traffic, a potential breakup and money issues can easily trigger the stress response.
When you have a stress response, your breathing becomes shallow, your blood pressure rises, your heart rate increases and your nervous system becomes activated. Chronic levels of stress can cause the sympathetic nervous system to become stuck in the ‘on’ or stimulated position, causing your body to be unable to regulate to a calm when it’s out of stress.
Stress causes chronic illness such as cardiac issues, headaches, migraines, blood pressure issues, anxiety disorders, weakened immune system, skin problems, infertility, insomnia and gastro-intestinal issues such as colitis.
I’ve had clients who couldn’t leave the house due to anxiety. I’ve also had clients who couldn’t leave the house because their colitis was so bad that they were afraid they’d have a bout of uncontrollable diarrhea in public. Both scenarios were caused by an unregulated stress response. Neither client started out unable to leave the house.
Here’s what you need to know: If you put in the work to build some emotional muscles, your response to stress can be elective, meaning you’ll be able to choose how you’d like to respond. Stress isn’t going away. Modes of communication are only becoming more vast and humans are responding by feeling overwhelmed and pulled in even more directions. If you don’t learn how to regulate your response to non-life threatening situations, you’re going to end up with a disease, or in Depends, or on medication for high blood pressure.
Learning how to regulate your response to stress takes work but today I’m going to give you 2 simple takeaways that will help build your emotional core:
1. Engage in cardio 3x’s weekly for a minimum of 20 minutes each time.
2. Meditate. There are a million methods and all of them work. However, if you’re like me and the thought of meditation can cause you to break out in hives, here’s a simple solution ~ one that you can do in your sleep (literally). Order the free demo of this program (linked to here) and then order the program. Listen to it nightly.
After 30 days of cardio and meditation, you'll begin to have the ability to do the following when you're feeling stress BEFORE you respond:
1. Ask yourself if the situation is life threatening.
2. Decide if you want to dial down your reaction/response.
3. Respond with a more appropriate reaction, one that will not trigger your fight or flight response.