THE BLOG
01/08/2013 12:52 am ET Updated Mar 09, 2013

Too Much Stress Is Terrible!

Let's face it -- too much stress is terrible! Stress is like a ninja inside your body that causes you to lose sleep, gives you headaches, and elevates your blood pressure. The right amount of stress feels good and acts as a stimulant, but too much of it and it starts doing bad things. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word "ninja" means: a person trained in ancient Japanese martial arts and employed especially for espionage and assassinations. Metaphorically, that is what stress is -- it's very sneaky!

You go about your busy day, and small acute stress responses are slowly and silently attacking you. We may face hundreds of these small stress responses throughout that day. They may come from sitting in rush-hour traffic, fighting with a significant other, or being late for a meeting.

According to a study done at Harvard, about 47 percent of our waking hours are spent thinking about what's not going on. Our mind is a stress-producing machine! We are thinking about deadlines, what we are doing with our life, and what the next problem is. All of this is causing stress, which is silently attacking our body. However, the reality is, stress is unavoidable -- we all have a relationship with it.

One thing a lot of us worry about is gaining weight. We activate the stress response in our bodies just by thinking about it. Humans are the only animals that get a stress response from thinking about how they're going to look in their bathing suit.

In a study in the Journal of Obesity done by USCF researchers, it showed doing mindful eating and stress-reduction techniques helped women prevent weight gain without the use of a diet. The women in this study who had the least stress showed the greatest reduction of deep belly fat. Belly fat has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Mindful eating is something that can be easily incorporated into your day. Just by reminding yourself to eat slower, you take in all the sensations of the meal that may help you to lose weight. Start with breakfast: Wake up a little bit earlier, so that you can plan how you're going to mindfully eat your breakfast. Remember, your health is more important than anything else! Don't let that stress response silently attack you right in the morning.

Another area that stress can attack us is by depriving us of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it's estimated 20 percent of Americans are sleep-deprived, receiving fewer than six hours of sleep per night. Chronic stress can lead to excessive amounts of cortisol in the body, and this may disrupt how we sleep.

The real key to beating stress is "mindful awareness" -- you need to monitor your attention. By the word "mindful awareness," I mean the ability to use your attention in a calm, relaxed, and focused manner. Try to find any tool that will help you create more mindful strategies to incorporate into your day. Meditation is one of the greatest methods to get in that state, but I understand we sometimes can't fit more than a few minutes in a day. So try small amounts of mindful awareness throughout the day. The GPS for the Soul's new meditation app is something that you can do to create more mindful awareness.

Try different strategies to incorporate mindfulness into your life. What if you woke up every morning, and the first thing you did was meditate? By just doing 10 minutes of meditation in the morning, you set yourself up for less stress throughout your day. What if you did meditation at a set time every night?

Try to find a way to become more mindful, whether it's from mindful eating, meditation, or an app like GPS for the Soul. This way, we can become more centered, which will relive a lot of the "silent ninja," aka stress response, that is impacting our health and well-being.

For more by Robert Piper, click here.

For more on stress, click here.

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