Why taking a chill pill is the best medicine

It’s just not worth it. Whatever it is that has your knickers in a knot or your mind working over time, chances are it’s doing you more harm than it’s worth because stress is a giant contributor to ill health. It’s the one common denominator linked to major health issues, including heart disease, depression, cancer, obesity and autoimmune diseases.

So tackling your stress levels is possibly the number one thing you can do for yourself.

Some stress is good for you – the type that makes you lift your performance for a work deadline, sporting match or important event. But we are all susceptible to a new, 21st century plague of stress that is making us sick, tired and ill.

Everyone’s stressed and it’s so incredibly prevalent now, we’ve come to see that frazzled, strung out, overloaded and harassed feeling as ‘normal’. It’s a ‘normal’ part of everyday life, and for some people it’s even a sign of achievement.

But stress the way we experience it now in our lives is not ‘natural’, and the distinction between normal and natural is very important.

Put your feet up!

Put your feet up!

The type of stress that’s natural for humans is the type we used to feel occasionally when a woolly mammoth ventured a bit too close. It was a physical type of stress revolving around finding shelter, avoiding attack, and finding food, and once the stress factor was resolved, the actual stress response went away. The stress upon our body wasn’t persistent.

That’s the ‘natural’ type of stress our body is geared up to deal with.

The type of stress we have to deal with now though has changed, and it’s often prolonged and from multiple sources.  In particular, we’re living in the age of technology, so our mind is in the 21st century but our body is still a system designed thousands of years ago.

We have more problems to deal with than cavemen did too – time and money being the major ones – and much more information to process. One week’s worth of reading The New York Times now is more mental and brain stimulation than our ancestors had in a lifetime. Throw on top of that TV and computers and all the other daily buzz we’re surrounded with, it all adds up to an enormous mental strain on a daily basis, and that’s before we include any of life’s messy bits and curve balls that can really have us on our knees.

So we end up in a constant state of high alert – processing information for long hours of the day and often night as well because we’ll be watching TV, on the computer or working late – and that means a body over-loading on stress hormones and struggling to process them. The end result is a compromised immune system which threatens our health. We call it being ‘run down’ – but what it really is, is a very big shout from your body saying: Help!

So chill out people! Cut back, tune out, switch off, and your body will thank you for it.

Tell me – what stresses you out the most and do you have a strategy for dealing with it that you can share with us all?


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