Why I am not stressed
Lately, it seems like I'm dealing well with stress... or maybe a better way to put it is I don't feel too much stress. While it's pretty hard to point out the reason I'm feeling so "Relaxed", something definitely changed within me. I can't really say it will stay that way because almost everything in life is like a cycle, sometimes you are up sometimes you are down. But taking into account the situation I'm in... the old me would definitely feel an overwhelming stress.
Let's try to explore together what changed?
What is stress though? It sounds kinda vague when you define it. A feeling of burden? anxiety? a pressure in the chest area? depression? maybe all of those things and more?
It's not easy to define it but everyone seems to understand what it is when someone is describing it and usually it has something to do with "life problems" or "too many things to do" or some "traumatic event".
Physiological or biological stress is an organism's response to a stressor such as an environmental condition. Stress is the body's method of reacting to a condition such as a threat, challenge or physical and psychological barrier. Stimuli that alter an organism's environment are responded to by multiple systems in the body. - from Wikipedia
In other words, our brain thinks that there is some kind of a "danger" or obstacle and the defense systems in our body react to it. It has some real functions which nessecery to our survival, but the fact our brain thinks there's a danger doesn't really mean there's a danger. Most of the time there is no actual danger but a chemical imbalance or maybe an over-pessimistic interpretation, imagination, and thinking which creates an illusion of danger. We see a future which did not happen yet in our minds.
If we look at it physiologically there are few factors which contribute to the existence of stress in our bodies and one of them is the hormone "Cortisol" which has many functions in our bodies, an obvious one is a change in mood and stress levels.
There are a few ways to look at stress... physiological, biological or psychological but the real question is... What can we do about it? What did I do about it? Let's figure it out while I'm still writing this :)
One of the things I noticeably changed in my life this year is the way I view and approach my health. Surprisingly most of the things I changed also relate to stress.
I decided to try and a sufficient sleep every night or at least most of the nights after listening to a Joe Rogan's podcast with Matthew Walker. Guess what? lack of sleep causes your cortisol levels to go up which means you are more stressed! So if you are stressed the first thing I would ask you is... "are you sleeping well?". You can imagine the answer I usually get... People want to be more productive and use their time to finish more things in order feel less stress, contradictory they create more stress when they don't sleep enough.
The second question I usually ask is "are you exercising and eating healthy?". Is it really surprising that those things cause you to feel less stressed?
I don't think you need a scientific study to know that doing physical exercise makes you feel better. I have been exercising most of my life whether it's in the gym or martial arts, but I did change my diet this year. I decided to cut off most junk food and gluten, I don't drink sweet drinks, rarely touching alcohol, avoiding processed carbs and sugars... you get the idea, trying to eat more healthy. I won't talk about all the benefits it had on my health or energy levels but again... surprisingly sugars (also artificial sweeteners) and processed carbohydrates cause stress. One of the functions of cortisol is also to manage and balance our sugar levels in the blood, so when your blood sugar levels spike, more cortisol is released in your body to balance it. Those things are known you just have to look for them.
So before you rush into psychological reasoning, try to fix your chemistry :)
Still... being physically healthy may not be enough. What about mental health?
Having a healthier lifestyle is not the only thing I changed in my life, few of the noticeable things I do now which I haven't done much before are reading books, listening to podcasts and lectures, learning NLP and other models, educating myself in different ways, practicing mindfulness and meditation.
This journey of education and self-improvement had a huge impact on my life, my philosophy and mainly in the way I think. I believe that concepts like "The map is not the territory" which lead you to view life in a different way also affect the way you feel. Once you learn to live and view things through different lenses and not one "true" ideology, funny things happen. I started caring less what other people think because I see now that's everything is a perspective. I started looking at things as they are and not as I want them to be. I learned to not give too much significance to thoughts about the future or the past but to focus on the present.
Can you see how those things are related to stress? not worrying about what other people think, not worrying about the future too much (which doesn't mean you shouldn't have plans and goals), and simply accepting the reality as it is and not resisting it. Maybe the idea which ultimately reduced stress for me is "Problems do not exist, only situations you have to deal with or accept", which if you think about makes sense! problems do not exist in nature... it's a concept created in our heads to describe something, a "lens", a "map".
If you really think about it most of your problems don't really exist out there, only in your head. And if you realize that thinking about them won't solve anything you would rather think about what's the next step and not what might happen.
"Can you do anything about it? do it! Can't? no point in thinking about it!"
From this perspective, it's hard to be stressed since you don't see a danger but just another thing you have to do or to deal with. Instead of focusing on illusions you simply keep on moving forward. When you understand that we give meaning to things you can choose the meaning.
But knowing those things is not enough, I knew them before... but once you practice the things I said before by testing different ways of viewing reality, you understand it and live it. In order to try and view reality from different perspectives, you need to learn new and different ideas from different sources of knowledge and practices of self-reflection. Read books, philosophy, and self-help... Watch lectures, podcasts, and educational videos... Do meditations or any other "Self-awareness/reflection" practices like yoga etc...
Please tell me in the comments if the posts helped you or if you agree/disagree with me.
Or just comment whatever comes to your mind!
I Promise to read them and reply :)