The pace of our world is speeding up. It creates enormous pressure — intellectual, financial, social, family — and the stress of it all just sucks!
There is a verse in my favorite Van Halen song, “I’ve been to the edge, and there I stood and looked down. You know I lost alot of friends there, baby…ain’t got no time to mess around!”
I include it in my personal Yoga Fun playlist. It’s part of my every morning these days and serves as a reminder that I have to mount a counter-attack on stress. After years of not taking care of “me”, it has become a long, sustained, unrelenting war on my body. I have to be disciplined in my counter-attack.
What does that mean, really? How does one do that?
Here is how I see it. Evolution conditioned our bodies to manage crisis – ‘fight or flight’. It’s that adrenalin rush when scared or threatened. Our adrenals signal the release of powerful amounts of blood sugar, hormones and chemicals to prepare the body for action.
We become super-human, and we think we can stay in that place! Yes, the effects are impressive. An immediate jump in heart and lung activity, while the stomach and GI shut down. Muscles and critical organs are flooded with blood flow, while other areas are restricted. It even focuses vision, but suppresses hearing.
BUT, the final ugly part of ‘fight or flight’? The body increases blood-clotting factor. Yep, get ready to be eaten, if you lose the battle or retreat.
Stress acts to activate this response throughout the day. As a series of mini-crisis, it becomes a short-cut to energize the body to meet demands. Worse yet, we become complicit in our body’s cheap use of this system. We willing engage in poor nutrition, exercise and emotional behavior — all reinforcing the pathway.
So, what happens over time?
Again, this is how I think about it. The ‘fight or flight’ has an expense on the body. The pathway begins to burn away at long-term resources to meet the short-term demands. It actually suppresses systems that would build, repair and create immunity. It stimulates cravings for fast energy — sugar! It destroys muscles, joints and organs.
And, adrenalin is addictive! So, we become junkies to the system.
As the Van Halen song goes, “…you may have all you want…you think you’re really cooking, baby…you better find yourself a friend!”