Stress has been called “the silent killer” and there is practically no disease that is not in any way linked to this response that can be defined as the way in which the body reacts to a challenge or challenge. Stress, of course, is something completely natural, however in our time it seems that there are more and more excessive and chronic responses to daily challenges: what was once the rare encounter with a predator today is a constant psychological and environmental pressure . As one of the great experts on the subject, Dr. Robert Sapolsky, explains, stress is something that primates have in common, including humans. “Primates are very intelligent and organized enough to devote their free time to making each other miserable and stressing. But if you get stressed in a psycho socially chronic way your health will be compromised. So, essentially, we have evolved to be smart enough to make ourselves sick, “says Sapolsky.
Here are five points that can help us avoid stress:
1: Stress has an important function for survival
In very simple terms “stress” refers to exerting pressure on the body to perform a task. It is a kind of emphasis or intensification of the body’s reactions, which evolutionary allows us to respond to a danger with the greatest amount of our resources. Commonly there is talk of the “flee or fight” response, which is extremely important in acute moments when the body needs to concentrate all its energies and avoid a threat. Fish, reptiles and birds have the same stress mechanism as us, however they do not suffer the same consequences as they are free of the psychological element that generates stress regardless of an immediate threat. Stress seriously compromises the immune system and is associated with numerous diseases.
2: Stress seriously compromises the immune system and is associated with numerous diseases
The Dr. Robert Sapolsky, has shown that stress suppresses the immune system and eventually have deleterious effects on our ability to defend ourselves against infectious invaders. Activating a stress response chronically and secreting a constant amount of adrenaline increases the risks of diseases such as diabetes and blood pressure; also, since stress usually affects the natural movements of the digestive tract “you are more likely to suffer from different gastrointestinal disorders,” says Sapolsky. In addition, stress causes erectile dysfunction, disrupts menstruation cycles and in children it can even compromise their growth.
3: Stress affects our ability to make rational decisions
When our attention is “captured” by an emotional stimulus or something we perceive as a risk, the tonsil in the brain is activated. Dr. David A. Kessler explains that “since the amygdala is connected to the prefrontal cortex, the region involved in executive functions such as decision-making, the tonsil’s impulse to flee or fight will narrow the attention to what it perceives as a threat, thus reducing our ability to interpret threats really present in the environment. This eventually erodes our ability to make rational decisions; the brain becomes a single-function sentinel. ” This is the essential characteristic of stress that removes everything that has not captured our attention (or obsession) from the landscape and focuses our energy so, generally vehement, to a single task. This could be running away from a saber-toothed tiger but nowadays it’s usually things like “I really hate my job” or “I don’t have enough money to pay the rent” and similar things that become a source of constant emotional tension.
4: Stress affects our ability to perceive properly
By concentrating our attention on a unique emotional stimulus – which is perceived as a threat, whether real or created by our obsessive psyche – our energy is also concentrated in that aspect in which we have a fixation – since energy goes where our attention is directed When this happens in a constant or even chronic way, it affects the fact that we are draining by not circulating and distributing the energy, and only focusing it intensely on a non-regenerative aspect. This generates fatigue and fatigue causes a decrease in our faculties that again affects our perception and our ability to make decisions. Likewise, when we are stressed by something that is not present in the environment other than as a mental spectrum, this obviously distracts us from immediate tasks, again lowering our performance. The philosopher Manly P. Hall wrote that only the relaxed person is able to access the reality of things, this is because those who are in a state of tension can hardly attend to what is happening in the present, what is current, that is to say what is happening in that moment and obviously reality is what happens here and now, this or this other mental rumination.
5: Stress is one of the main causes of suffering, according to Buddhism
As we saw in the previous points, stress affects our health, our ability to relate and understand the environment correctly. As if this were not enough, according to Buddhism, stress prevents spiritual growth, it is one of the main obstacles to entering a meditative state and is largely responsible for suffering and for keeping us in Samara – or in the illusory wheel of existence.
Stress is another way of saying a physiological emphasis. As we saw at the beginning this may be completely necessary and save our life; however, when that emphasis becomes very constant then it generates tension, squeezes too much and clings to things. In doing so, it does not allow thoughts, emotions or sensations to flow and have a natural movement, to arise, be experienced and disappear; This causes blockages, fixations and obsessions that can even become tumors.
In his four noble truths, the Buddha identified the concept of “upadana” as one of the main causes of suffering. “Upadana” is an interesting word since although it has been translated as “sticking” or “clinging”, it literally means “fuel”; that is, it is to stick to things that, as it were, keeps the flame of suffering on fire. This is so, according to Buddhism, since the nature of the world is that things are impermanent, they are constantly changing, decaying and dying. Therefore it is absurd to stick to them – it is absurd if we do not want to suffer. Psychological stress is a form of attachment (in addition to being a form of self-harm), since what stresses us is not really happening at the moment, we cling to a certain desire.