Two men were walking through the woods when a large bear approached them a mere 50 feet in front of them. The first man dropped his backpack and dug out a pair of running shoes, then began to furiously attempt to lace them up as the bear slowly approached them. The second man looked at the first, confused, and said, "What are you doing? Running shoes are not going to help, you can not out run that bear." "I do not need to," said the first man, "I just need to outrun you!" As humorous as this story is, stress can be a positive force for survival, pushing us to achieve excellence in our educational, professional and recreational life as well. Many of us would never have turned in a term paper or caught the last train without the stress of an impending deadline. Stress turns negative when it becomes unmitigated, prolonged and chronic, which quickly erodes our health and well-being, promoting disease and rapid aging.
Cortisol is the stress hormone made by our adrenal glands (sitting on top of each kidney) that gives us the Fight or Flight ability in response to a stressful situation. The problem arises when cortisol levels remain continuously elevated because of constant stress, never allowing a normalizing of levels. Your body's physiology responds like your being chased by the bear all the while you're trying to have a relaxed dinner at home. Symptoms such as increased blood pressure, impaired cognitive function, impaired sleep, blood sugar irregularity, increased abdominal gain gain, lowered immune response, all common with prolonged elevated cortisol levels.
We do not always have control over the stress in our lives but we can have control over how and when it affects us. Creating an environment that helps deflect and redirect stress is vital so one can reset once again to normal cortisol levels. We've talked before about how your ability to handle stress is determined by your health status. Likewise your surrounding environment at home must become an oasis, a place of peace, joy and relaxation that can help reset and normalize your stress hormones every day.
Sights, sounds and simplicity
Research shows that color affects stress perception. A recent University study found that red environments increase stress responses, while green and white environments do not. In Feng Shui, colors are used to bring different energies into the home. Consulting with a knowledgeable designer can set the stage for a soothing and healing environment.
Listening to music can have a tremendously stress reducing effect on our minds and bodies, especially slowly, quiet classical music. Studies show that this type of music can have positive benefit on our physiology, reducing your pulse, lowering your blood pressure and decreasing the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Invest in a sound system that can fill your home with beautiful music.
If your home is your castle, your bedroom should be your sanctuary. Get rid of the TV, the computers, the gym equipment, all the clutter. The bedroom should be inviting to either rest, sleep or love, anything else is a distraction. Invest in a bed and bedding that is worthy of spending one third of your life upon. Use an air purifier to provide as much clean oxygen in the room as possible. Essential oils are another powerful addition that adds a stress reducing and healing touch as well.
Stop being chased by bears and start designing your style of living by creating a stress free environment and sound mind for health and vitality.