Thursday, March 25, 2010


Please join me on a trip to the Land of Stress. It’s not too far away and the fare is cheap. I can’t promise comfortable accommodations, but I can share some travel tips and tell you what to watch for along the way. It is a safari; there will be animals. Watch them closely.

While the emotional landscape that causes you stress may be different than mine, your best friend’s or your life partner’s, the physiological reaction it causes is generally the same: shallow breathing, rapid heart-rate and an invisible, powerful hormonal release.

Just like other mammals, stress is the finger that pushes your brain’s primitive “fight or flight” button. Once the button is pushed, the body is flooded with cortisol and adrenaline, which provides the energy to respond to the crisis. But what if your stress is the result of losing a job or having an argument? I suppose you could punch something or run away really fast, but that’s not always practical. More than likely you sit and think about your problem(s), stewing in your own excessive hormonal juices, wondering why you suddenly feel the urge to eat Kit Kat bars or cry.

Now take a look around. There are zebras and elephants and water buffalo in the distance. From time to time they, too, experience stress, like when competing for territory, food or a mate. But unlike humans, once the crisis has passed, they instinctively know how to flush lingering hormones from their bodies.

They shake. Trunk to tail, ears to hooves, tusks to rump. They shake off their stress-leftovers and go back to grazing, side by side.

You don’t have to travel to the Land of Stress to know it’s a physical as well as emotional state. Whether you shed lingering stress in a vigorous sun salutation or whirl in a vibrating dance, creating your own cleansing ritual restores calm and ease to both body and mind.

Leave it to nature to shake us up with wisdom.

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