According to The American Institute of Stress, up to 90% of all medical visits are stress related. Unmanaged, chronic stress — the kind that you feel when you don’t have enough time, energy or resources to get it all done — creates a chemical cocktail that stimulates the development of anything that could go wrong in your body. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and other diseases and disorders get jacked-up on stress-induced steroids while the coping techniques we commonly use like caffeine, sugar and alcohol tear away at our resilience and bounce-back-ability.
We put stress in a box, as something out there in the environment that’s working against us, when in reality the majority of our experience of stress is determined by our ability to take care of our most basic needs. Common sense practices that are far from common practice like eating foods that are actually food, moving our bodies often during the day, getting at least 8 hours of sleep and spending quality time with those we love. It’s the simple things that nudge our bodies and minds into a more flexible, adaptable and resilient state, but perhaps it’s the simplicity that keeps us from making it a priority.
When you consider self-care, keep in mind that you can only take care of others if you have the capacity to spend energy on things outside of your own survival. Although putting yourself on the bottom of your priority list seems like a noble sacrifice, those who depend on you won’t see it that way when you’re no longer around. Instead of convincing yourself once again that you’ll start ____________ tomorrow, why not commit right now to take a step in the right direction by taking action? If not now, then when?
We’ve all heard it said, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Getting stress under control and your life back in balance may feel like it’s a marathon away, but making progress by investing in yourself right now will not only nudge you in a better direction, it will trigger the release of a different type of neural concoction. With small successes the brain secretes habit-building dopamine, and if you share your wins with others you add a boost of oxytocin to seal the deal. Over time, we rewire our patterns of thought and behavior to build strength, flexibility and endurance for our own human operating system, and by supporting each other along the way we create a culture of thriving, not just surviving.
Please, don’t let another person suffer from “I’ll start tomorrow”. Take action today. Be kind to yourself. And love one another.
Cheers to a happy and healthy 2017!
For more tips on how to train your brain to manage energy more efficiently, visit the Synergy Online Learning Academy.
Originally published at medium.com