When I started out, I set out to write about posture correction. It was going to be easy, I’d learned a bunch of exercises and stretches that helped me to correct a lifetime of poor posture and all I had to do was collect them together and publish them.
Simple, right? Well, not so much.
As I wrote about the process that fixed my bad back and poor posture, I came to realize there was so much more bubbling along below the surface. One of those things was stress.
What is Stress?
Well, in physics, stress is simple. It’s a body’s internal reaction to an external force. Okay, it’s really not at all simple, but that definition gives insight into the psychological definition. Why? Because it’s pretty much the same.
Stress is our body’s reaction (physical and psychological) to an external (psychological) force.
There is nothing inherently wrong in stress, it’s a survival response. The presence of danger (stress) triggers our “fight or flight” response. Adrenaline is released into our bloodstream to heighten awareness and increase reaction time, metabolism, heart and breathing rates, i.e. we go into survival mode.
Along with adrenaline, our bodies release cortisol. As with stress, cortisol is a good and necessary thing; it’s involved in metabolic activities (like carbohydrate uptake) which are also associated with fight of flight. Unfortunately, at elevated levels over long periods of time it is a very bad thing, and is so closely tied to stress we call it the stress hormone.
The Problem of Stress
Heightened cortisol levels bring with them a host of negative health effects one of which is contributing to poor posture. Other negative effects of stress include (but are not limited to):
- weight fluctuations (gain or loss)
- heart disease
- weakened immune systems
- poor sleep, and more.
Stress is a weight. Not a physical weight, of course, but a psychological weight. That psychological weight presses down on you, hard. In a way, it presses harder than any physical weight can, because, unlike a big rock, you can’t simply put it down.
Coping With Stress
Fortunately, there are ways that you can “put the stress down.” There are many ways of reducing your stress:
- Breathing exercises
- Connection and community
This list is in no way exhaustive. The key is to find the best coping mechanisms for you, and to make them routine.