Some stress can be good as it can motivate us to change and accomplish our goals. Without some pressure we might not pursue our dreams. But too much stress can be debilitating. When we are too stressed we produce the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is referred to as “public enemy number one” by many psychologists. Some physiological stress reactions can include a racing heart, shallow breathing, decreased oxygen, muscle tension, perspiration, and impaired cognitive functioning.
Numerous studies have shown that emotional stressors can trigger heart attacks, arrhythmias, and even sudden death. Chronic stress can cause memory impairment, impaired immune system functioning, increased risk of coronary disease, and increased cardiovascular risk.
Sometimes we can make changes in our lives to reduce stress. A Zen Buddhist priest I respect once said, “Whenever I have a chance to lower my stress I walk on through that door!” That’s good advice. Sometimes we can’t change certain circumstances in our lives, or we have to endure something for a higher purpose. Even if we can’t change our external circumstances, often we can change how we think and react.
One of my favorite ways to deal with stress, both in my personal and professional life, is through meditation. There are many different kinds of meditation, and the meditation that is best is the one that works for you in the moment. Just as an athlete trains their body for sports, a meditator can train their mind to deal with life differently.
There are many ways to deal with stress. For more information on both the impacts of stress and how to deal with stress check out this article by the American Psychological Association.