We’ve all seen the banner “Keep Calm and Carry on”. There are lots of articles about the importance of being calm and how to get there. But the key question really is: Why do we need to be calm?
The science behind being calm is that it is healthier for our minds and bodies to be calm. Research at Johns Hopkins Medical School revealed that “People who feel angry often and fail to deal with it well are more likely to have heart problems…; the more intense or frequent the blow-ups, the higher one’s heart risks.” Why? Anger causes the body to produce stress hormones known as catecholamines, which increase our blood pressure and “play a role in the development of artery clogging plaque….”
At Emory University Medical School researchers have concluded that stress “can activate cytokine molecules causing inflammation…. and behavioral responses to stress, both of which are linked to serious illnesses including cancer and heart disease”. http://whsc.emory.edu/home/publications/health-sciences/emory-health/winter10/calm-mind-healthy-body.html
Stress also puts most of us into a fight or flight state. During this state, our brain interprets the stress as a threat. Our brain actually starts to “secrete hormones that tells our nervous system to prepare our body to take drastic action”. https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/use-neuroscience-to-remain-calm-under-pressure.html
We all know what happens thereafter; we can feel our blood rushing, our breath gets short, we feel a tightness throughout our body, and, at times, everything can seem like a blur. In this kind of situation we are more likely to do something outright foolish, thus further prolonging the stressful situation. Sadly, if we get used to dealing with stress through a fight or flight mentality, our brain will start to overreact to any unfamiliar stress and this could lead to one getting stuck in an unhealthy, response loop. This kind of unhealthy response loop has been linked to obesity, depression, and diabetes.
There is way to change such behaviors or toxic responses and get ourselves to a better and healthier way to deal with life stresses: Be Calm. Here’s how can we get there:
- Get a good night’s sleep and eat well. Sleep helps the body recharge. A lack of sleep actually can increase stress levels even without a stressful situation present; feed the body with healthy foods which will nourish the body as well as the immune system.
- Cultivate a positive attitude. This will help your brain switch its attention to a “stress-free” scenario. Avoid “what ifs” that can throw fuel on the fire of stress and worry with never ending scenario play.
- Find and Do things that make you happy. We all need an outlet to enjoy ourselves. Something that makes us laugh and be happy. Find time to do this everyday.
- Simplify and organize your time/daily routine. Avoid the possibility of unnecessary stresses – especially of time, and create more time to do things that make you happy.
- Step Back – Be more rational and less emotional. Sometimes we just need to remove ourselves from a stressful situation so we can try to get calm and think rationally. This can help us avoid getting sucked into the toxic fight or flight response, which will hopefully lead us to a sustainable solution rather than prolonged stress.
- Develop a support system. Talking with someone is a good outlet for dealing with stress. Others can provide wisdom and differing viewpoints through experience because they are not emotionally invested in the situation.
REMEMBER, IT’S NOT THE LOAD YOU ARE CARRYING, BUT HOW YOU CARRY IT.
Lou Holtz (Former Football Coach for the N.Y. Jets)