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Stress Less

Welcome to Love Mondays, a weekly newsletter designed as a 3-minute hit to fire up the other 10,077 minutes of your week.

All stress is not created equal. No meaningful life is stress-free. But we must intentionally figure out how to use our stress cycles as an engine of personal growth and peak performance. In a healthy stress response, the threat will pass and the heightened state will be followed by a state of recovery and rest. In an unhealthy response, stress continues to compound.

What are your recurring stress patterns throughout the week?

Write them down.

Consider: which temporary stress phases can be leveraged to kick you into gear?

Practice: building in recovery periods immediately after the stress phase passes.

Decide to: map your stress journey this week, paying particular attention to stress periods not followed by a return to a calm and restful state of being.

The science behind healthy and unhealthy stress

There is nothing inherently negative about the physiological side of stress. According to neuroscientist Bruce McEwen, when something happens to us, whether it’s getting out of bed on a Monday morning, which some people can find stressful, or having a conversation, or almost anything we do, especially if it’s unexpected, the body amps up and produces an ‘orchestra of chemical mediators’. These include cortisol and adrenalin, as well as neurotransmitters, metabolic hormones such as leptin and insulin, and cytokines from the immune system. They make the heart rate go up, trigger the release of glucose, increase the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain. It’s all designed to keep us alert to meet the challenge. But the key is that the body turns on this response when you need it and turns it off again when the challenge is over.

Too often in today’s ‘always on’ world, we don’t calm down but continue to experience stressors without the restorative effects of a normal stress cycle. This can lead to chronic stress, which is associated with mood swings, reduced empathy and impulse control, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and other health issues.

Scan your week this morning to intentionally build in some recovery time.

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