IMMUNITY LESSON 10
Tip of the Iceberg

TENSION AND STRESS are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to stress. The stress we notice is damaging to our mood, demeanor, and responses. It gives us headaches and makes us feel bad. But it is also damaging to virtually every other body system in one way another. It even affects our appearance.

Here’s a Breakdown

Headaches and tension comprise the physical, noticeable effects of stress.

  • But unnoticeable stress-induced damage in our body is what gives rise to these.
  • Stress affects ALL body systems (as the chart on page 2 readily shows).
  • It is a two-way street as well. Unhealthy habits also negatively affect our body systems, and this gives rise to tension and stress.
  • SOLUTION: We can combat stress by creating a more resilient self through the “Four Pillars

The Tip of The Iceberg

We feel the headache, the pain, and the stress. These are the tip of the iceberg and the tip of the iceberg is real. What we don’t feel are the changes caused by stress in other parts of our body. They are real, also, but we’re typically unaware of them.

Stress causes everything  from premature aging to infertility

Stress affects our immune system, our heart, GI tract, skin and appearance, musculoskeletal system, libido, menstrual cycles, and energy levels amongst others.  We are probably not aware of these negative effects on these critical parts of our body caused by stress as they are beneath our conscious threshold — partly because we are focused on dealing with our tension and overwhelmed feelings which comprise the tip of the iceberg.

Beneath the Surface

While the effects on our body systems may not be noticeable individually, their collective effect causes us to feel poorly in the short term. In the long term, they may give rise to chronic conditions and diseases. They definitely take a toll on our immune system.

Types of Stressors

 

ONGOING STRESSORS

We all have chronic stressors that are impractical to eliminate in the short term. These may include a job that is not satisfying, a health issue, family struggles or problems with money. Now, we have the coronavirus pandemic added to these issues. These are not fully in our control. They need to be approached and addressed in a measured fashion after we change our mindset towards them and build our foundation.

DAILY STRESSORS

Irritating inconveniences. A broken appliance, flat tire, or coffee stain on a shirt. Little stressors are a fact of life, but they certainly add up over time. Then there are the bills to pay, time crunches, and on and on. We can’t prevent these first-world problems, so we will change our responses to them.

LIFE HABIT STRESSORS

This is exactly what we are targeting. We have control over these. We can do big things about these that will improve our ability to deal with life’s Daily Stressors and position us to address those lingering Continual Stressors. Win-Win.

What Can We Do to Combat Stress?

We need to combat stress on multiple fronts. Stress attacks us on multiple fronts from job, family responsibilities, lack of sleep, processed food, sitting too much, on and on. So, we need to attack stress on multiple fronts, and “throw the kitchen sink at stress.”

There is no silver bullet

We must improve our basic sleep, movement, nutrition and attitude habits. And do whatever else it takes.

Poor habits in these domains create stress in our body that builds much of the iceberg “under the surface.” Think of it like this: Day after day, stressors attach to the ice under the water, causing it to grow so large that some of it finally breaks the surface.

Then? Bam! That out-of-control stressed-out feeling.

Sleep, Movement, Nutrition and Attitude

Adopting good habits in these four areas creates a robust resilience platform which essentially shrinks the underwater iceberg. The more we lessen those items under the surface, the less the iceberg peeks above the water.
So, if one buys into this rationale, which is supported in the scientific literature, then more relaxation will translate into fewer stressful episodes in life. (REMEMBER: It’s impossible to be stressed and relaxed at the same time, so relaxation will decrease stress levels.)

Stress Affects Learning and Comprehension

When we’re stressed, we’re in survival mode. When we’re in survival mode, we can’t learn.
While not attempting to sensationalize this issue or be too blunt, it is not an overstatement to say, “Stress makes us stupid.”

Stress diminishes our cognitive ability (ability to learn), our ability to reason, and our ability to make the most optimal decisions.

While this is particularly harmful for students, most of learning in life is experiential, or what we learn from our experiences after formal education. This is now for most of us.

If stress causes us to be hindered or impeded from learning from our life experiences, reasoning, and/or deciding upon the best path forward in life, then we are placing ourselves at a disadvantage that doesn’t need to be there.

If we mindlessly accept stress as part of life and accept its horribly negative side effects when there is an alternative path to reducing stress, then stress indeed may make us “stupid.” To use a less harsh descriptor, we could also say, “Stress prevents us from achieving our best self.”
Given this perspective, it makes it even more compelling to prioritize controlling the effects of stress and stressors in our lives. And we need to address:

  • The noticeable psychological stress we experience every day
  • The stressors that are under the surfaceand are not as noticeable (poor sleep, etc.)
  • The continual chronic stressors that we can’t do much about in the short term
    The daily stressors that always pop up unexpected

We are building a foundation to address all of these issues. Mindful awareness of the effects of stress — and how it is insidiously controlling our lives — is part of that foundation.

Once you have it down, combine measured breathing with other stretching routines. Practice measured breathing before combining for best results.

Immunity Lesson 8

JOY’S PEARL

“Because stress prevents us from being our best, then we should  mindfully choose a path away from stress.
Sounds good to me.”

 

Today’s #1 Task

Read and reflect on the article 5 Concepts to Feel Better.

Today’s #2 Task

• Sleep routine with firm lights-out and awaken times.
• Sleep enhancers during the day, evening, and
prior to lights-out.
• Gratitude practice. Write it down.
WOOP your way to Feeling Better.

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