Do you have trouble sleeping, weight you cannot shed, digestive distress, depression, or anxiety? The average American spends $11,800 per year on treating stress. This is a staggering amount of money when we have tools to help us at our fingertips, most of them free. The tools are called lifestyle changes.
Stress has become so common in our culture, it is the soup we are swimming in. When we are in it, surrounded by it, everyone we know is living it, we cannot see how we are being affected or where our choices lay. We become victims of stress. It can seem impossible to find ease. We've decided as a nation that this is our new reality and we forget that we have a choice, that we are not here to live in a stress soup.
In 2018, Nan-Kirsten Forte, MS, wrote on Everydayhealth.com:
"Although there are different types of stress (some are even positive), the type we need to pay attention to, say experts, is chronic stress. This is the stress that makes it hard to sleep well, makes it nearly impossible to lose weight, and finds us fighting one cold after another. It’s the stress that can both cause medical conditions and trigger and exacerbate flare-ups from existing conditions. This kind of stress depresses the immune system, alters our moods, and damages our professional and personal relationships. Just as, on the positive side, yoga has been shown to lengthen the protective caps at the ends of our DNA strands called telomeres and keep us more youthful, ongoing stress can actually change our DNA for the worse.
As a country, we are struggling to address many mental health issues that, it turns out, are closely tied to chronic stress; there are not enough specialists or practicing healthcare professionals to address them. Is it any wonder people turn to social media to feel less isolated — only to find that social media itself can turn into a source of amped up, toxic stress?"
From an Ayurvedic perspective, stress is a Pitta (fire element) condition - an overabundance of focus, tension, and heat. As we come in to summer (Pitta season) we need to stay especially mindful of how our ambition, drive, and energy are focused. We may need to make sure we have time to chill (relax, take a cold shower, breathe deeply with extra long exhales, eat cooling foods, etc).
Stress actually kills people! The CDC reports 110 million people die every year as a direct result of stress. Stress leads to the immune system breaking down. It leads to inflammation. It leads to sleeplessness, weight gain, loss of willpower, and depression. Who wants to live like that?
Let's change the story and connect to how we truly want to feel! Let's make choices based on the desire to feel great, rather than the desire for "achievement" (crossing things off the to-do list or compromising ourselves to please others). Attend a yoga class at least once a week. Limit your time on social media. Prioritize yourself because if you aren't doing well, no one you love or serve will receive the best of you. Learn to increase space and time in your life. Let go of toxic stress and become more joyful. Join the Vitality Circle today (doors are closing June 7th for this year-long experience).
Empower yourself to live a happier, healthier life by minimizing stress in your life this summer.