Stress, stress, stress, stress

Stress has become an epidemic.

Caught between responsibilities and competing demands, many of us are seldom truly at ease.  In the absence of deep relaxation, chronic tension has become far too normal.  Even worse, nature never intended nor prepared us for the constant storm of stress that many suffer through on a day-to-day basis.

Consider a gazelle whose leisurely afternoon graze gets interrupted by a life and death situation: a lion pride.  The moment the gazelle becomes aware of the threat, it’s stress response bumps into overdrive – hormones pour into the body, heart rate increases, respiration shallows, blood diverts to the limbs – all essential provisions of escape.  Fight or flight.  In addition, all repair, maintenance, and reproductive systems are shut down entirely – no energy can be spared for these activities.  Besides, if the gazelle escapes, it will eventually calm down and the essential repair mechanisms of the body can be brought back online.  Equilibrium will once again be restored.

At least that is how evolution intended it.

The world shaped by humans, the one we inhabit, sharply contrasts our ancestral environment – the environment we evolved in.  Unfortunately for us, the pressures and challenges of our adopted world far outmatch our body’s ability to cope.  In other words, our biology still operates with software suited to the animal kingdom – not the technological mishmash of complexity that we now navigate.

When confronted with stress, the human body reacts in the exact same way as a gazelle fleeing a pack of hungry lions – it goes into overdrive.  Ideally, just like the gazelle, we’d eventually find respite from our stressors and thereby allow our bodies to return to homeostasis – but this rarely happens and when it does, it is typically short lived. You can’t run from a 25-year mortgage.

The implications of this are far-reaching as chronic stress literally erodes the fabric of the body and mind.  Worse yet, while under stress, it is biologically impossible for your body to repair itself.  The harmful by-products of stress – hormones such as cortisol – are therefore left to continually pollute the body’s ecosystem.  This accumulation speeds the aging process to a remarkable degree.

In sum, the inaccessibility of deep, prolonged relaxation leads to a downward spiral of exhaustion, irritability, and an almost infinite list of potential illness.

One of the main goals of this blog is to provide the information and motivation required to help others make positive changes in their lives.  Changes that will help to reduce stress and improve health, and given the ubiquity of modern money problems, any discussion concerning stress reduction must begin here.

Financial stress is by far our main source of worry.  Wholly 42% of Canadians report money as their greatest source of stress.  The next biggest source? Work!  23% of Canadians report their career as the number one issue.  Obviously, one works to make money and therefore I don’t feel it’s improper to lump work stress with money stress.  Based on that, it’s clear to see that collectively, we have major money problems.

With all that said, I am introducing a new theme which will explore the origins, consequences, and solutions to the modern money melee that we now find ourselves in.  Never fear, this won’t be nearly the snooze-fest it sounds like.  On the contrary, it’s surprisingly fascinating and uncomplicated to learn how simple it is to ease our financial strain.   Better still, any incremental improvements we can make to our finances will reverberate through every other aspect of our lives.

The emphasis here will be placed not on making more, but on spending lessThis is the key.  This one small shift in attitude can completely change your life.  Whether you’re rich or poor, learning to be more mindful about your money is an essential aspect of holistic wellbeing.

The time has come to liberate ourselves from the shackles of money, to take back control, to redefine what it means to be wealthy.  Freedom is possible and well at hand.  I hope that you are as excited as I am!

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