Does stress control your life? Are you accomplishing what you want to in life, or can you never seem to get ahead? Great news – You have the ability to regain control!
Control your thoughts, and you control your emotions. Conquer emotions, and you regulate your mind. Control your mind, and you can control physiology. Control your physiology, and you can control your genetic expression. You have the ability to change the course of your life, but first, you have to start small. First, you have to change your thoughts. I find the fact we have the ability to control our destiny unbelievably empowering!
Lack of control in our life leads to stress, sickness, and disease. Stress is an amazingly powerful thing! Have you have been so stressed you get a migraine, get sick, or worse? The cortisol reaction wreaks havoc throughout our nervous system! When our nervous system encounters a perceived threat in the environment, it reacts in a routine manner: A special part of your brain, your hypothalamus, signals your adrenals to secrete adrenaline and cortisol. To prepare for “fight or flight,” your heart rate, blood pressure, and energy supplies all increase. Cortisol increases blood glucose levels. Even more so, it suppresses the digestive, immune system, reproductive system, and any growth processes. You cannot repair your body in a sympathetic “fight or flight” state, but this gives you an advantage when running away from a bear. Today, black bears don’t chase us, but deadlines do. Unfortunately, this sympathetic response is not as helpful in everyday life and leads to chronic disease. As a society, we tend to constantly live in high-stress situations and do not take the time to enjoy the little things in life. We need to take that time for the sake of our longevity.
The thoughts running through our minds every day make up our beliefs. How we act on those thoughts makes up our habits. Those habits are the underlying infrastructure or programs that run 90% of our daily lives. Do you remember the steps you took to get ready for work? Were you consciously thinking about each and every step of the way, or were your actions automatic? Society has robotic patterns of living that we repeat day in and day out. When we use our higher brain function, our neocortex, we interrupt those patterns or habits. This usually occurs less than we actually perceive (5-15%) each day. Most of the time, we run on autopilot performing those ingrained habits. By interrupting those wired patterns, we form new habits. Forming new GOOD habits is how you can dramatically CHANGE your life. For example, what is the first thing most of us do in the morning? You got it- reach for our cell phone. Instead of killing 10-15 minutes browsing social media, we can channel that time for a quick workout, meditation, stretching routine, ANYTHING other than destructive activities. By allocating more attention to conscious activities, we can accomplish more of what we want in life. I know we have all ended a “busy” day with the question of “What did I really do today?”. Using these principles, we can decrease stress and increase our happiness throughout many aspects of our lives.
By understanding what makes us stressed makes it easier to change or avoid those aspects of our lives. We need to disrupt our patterns to make the change. Setting up accountability patterns like those found in group settings can be helpful. Not to sound to cliché, but the biggest change we can make changes within. A choice needs to be made, and focusing on your willpower is a great start. Practicing your “willpower” muscle with little choices leads to BIG changes in your life. Start small with exercise, diet, meditation, and journaling. Channel these to grow into other more difficult areas in your life. Our society is a fast-paced, stress-driven community where caffeine and energy drinks reign king…Where your paycheck is more important than how much time you spend with your family and friends…Where exercise NEEDS to be done in a gym at a certain time…Where an up-vote, like, and emojis are more vital then opening a new book or learning a new talent. Take control of your life one step at a time. One step to consider is chiropractic care! A study was done with chiropractic care, and cortisol levels showed a reduction after 5 weeks of care. The time is now to start taking care of your body! Action is the foundation to success.
Dr. Connor McCormick