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If I’d ask you what stress means to you, you will probably tell me that stress is feeling overwhelmed, not having time, not arriving on time or too much work...
I am going to give you a definition of stress that will relieve you a lot: stress is a physical response to prepare us to flee or fight when we are faced with a threat and our survival is at stake.
If I asked you again if you notice any physical symptoms when you say you are stressed, you will probably say that you have tension in your shoulders and feel as if you are experiencing rapid breathing, pain in the abdomen, a racing heart, tingling in the hands, sweating, and above all, a mental blockage that results in an inability to think.
Stress is an automatic and unconscious response. Thus, the brain is simply a radar designed to finding dangers and saving us from them. When the brain discovers one of these dangers, it commands the secretion of a hormone called cortisol, which prepares the body for flight or fight.
Let's not forget that it is like escaping on foot, a kind of race.
The body also collects blood from where it doesn't need it. This is not the time to stop and reflect. The prefrontal cortex, the place where logical processes take place, is left without blood supply and without food. The neural connections suffer. Every time we get stressed, we get dumber.
As you can see, it is quite a disaster in terms of balancing the body and the brain.
So, is stress good or bad?
Stress is good, it has saved us as a species. We all have had the experience of jumping backwards when something is coming at us, or protecting our heads when we felt something was going to hit us.
The problem is that the brain has not evolved. We maintain a palaeolithic stress response in the space age. We know that certain things are not threats to our lives: an angry boss, an awkward phone call, a teenage child, a traffic jam, or a difficult meeting. However, every day we meet several "mammoths" that trigger all the physiological responses of flight/fight that we have mentioned above.
And we don't run away!
If short-term stress is necessary for life, however, its accumulation over time always leads to illness.
Stress is a release of energy to run, but we don't do it. Obviously. We are at work, or in the car, in a store, at home, and it doesn't seem right to rush out. We do not burn that extra energy, it accumulates in our body. We become intoxicated with stress hormones that keep us alert and we accumulate fat in our arteries that can end up causing a heart attack.
In addition, the reward circuit of the brain demands something in exchange for so much suffering and it is usually glucose. You will eat more and you will especially want sweets or what is worse: alcohol.
Stress can be a trigger for harmful addictions. And what is more serious, it can lead to depression. Depression is an extraordinary cost for a company, because there are very long absences. The social cost is incalculable because in that state of mind you cannot take charge of your life or take care of your family.
Our jobs required our cognitive abilities. We are asked to make decisions all the time. We have to think of the best solution for each situation that is presented to us, also aligned with the company's strategy and with our own objectives.
The relationship between intellectual performance and stress is an inverted U-shaped function. A little bit of stress increases memory. When it is excessive, memory decreases completely.
This is very important: if we are stressed we do not have access to the old memories, we do not have all our knowledge available neither our experience. In short, we make decisions without having all our intellectual resources.
Accumulated stress alienates us. Surely whoever is reading this post might realised that at times, they may have said things like: "My God, I can't think!", "But why have I answered that way?" or “If only I had had a moment to think!”…
Learn to make a pause of serenity. Stop to think, and then act.
The premise is that everyone, absolutely everyone, has the standard tools to keep themselves calm. These tools are the body, the breath and the mind. Even the most skeptical person has a body and can take a deep breathe to think better.
It is no coincidence that these are the tools of yoga. Yoga helps us manage stress because these three tools are used at the same time. The physical practice of a yoga class is very beneficial, however, keep in mind that the tools of yoga to calm down are the use of your body, your breath and your mind. They are always with you and you can use them at any time.
It is the yoga techniques that are effective, not necessarily the practice of a yoga class.
When: May 23 2022 3PM GMT-6
Hosted: Ricardo González, LATAM President, About my Brain Institute
Guest: Maite Crespo, Chill Out Officer - Todo Yoga.
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Our session will be streamed live on our YouTube Channel, LinkedIn & Facebook! This is an interactive session, feel free to connect with us and ask any questions!
This session will be presented in Spanish. Captions with auto-translate to a language of your choice will be available in our YouTube Channel 72 hours after the event.
Maite Crespo is now ex-stressable. After years of fighting stress, it got the better of her. But only for a moment. She later went to look for it, to understand its nature and to dominate it. This is how Todoyoga was born, where she reclaims the importance of the body in stress management.