|Calm and Free by Rockwell Kent|
A single strand of ribonucleic acid virus (Covid-19) literally changed the landscape of the world, leaving people grappling with the numerous changes and shifting priorities. The plummeting economy, closure of businesses, health concerns, and changes in our routines have created all kinds of stresses, including physical, mental, and emotional. Who has not experienced stress? And these days we are all are surrounded by stressful situations that arise from a multitude of reasons, including finances, workplace tensions, a demanding boss, relationship problems, domestic issues, and, of course, health reasons stemming from the virus infection.
Short-term or acute stress is beneficial as it triggers the fight-or-flight response and a surge of energy that allows the individual to react to any adverse situation, at the same time offering protective health benefits, such as enhanced immunity. However, if the stress is long term or if the acute stress goes haywire, it results in chronic stress that wreaks havoc on the individual. Chronic stress has a severe negative impact on health, relationships, and work productivity. If we compare the statistics of chronic stress and its adverse effects world wide, the numbers are nearly similar. Chronic stress triggers two abnormal physiological events that impacts overall health:
- Overproduction of stress hormones including cortisol and adrenaline.
- Unregulated inflammatory response.
Compounding these abnormal physiological changes with unhealthy lifestyle and food choices, irregular meal timings, poor sleep routines, prolonged sitting, smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking recreational drugs results in disruption of the body’s homeostatic response (aka internal stability), putting the individual at increased risk of numerous health problems. Some of these health problems include: anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, insomnia, metabolic disorders, and memory issues.
- Releasing brain chemicals that contribute to a feel-good response and ward off anxiety and mental stress.
- Normalizing blood pressure and stabilizing the heartbeats.
- Reducing anxiety and depression.
- Improving the ability to sleep by de-activating the HPA axis (see About Stress: Acute Versus Chronic).
Anyone can resort to short sessions of yoga and relaxation as a quick practice, especially to deal with acute stress. There are several articles on this blog that have advocated the need to incorporate short sessions of yoga, meditation, and breath practices to deal with acute and /or chronic stress at home or office, including Stress, Your Health, and Yoga and Featured Sequence: Mini Office Yoga Practice.