Stress has become such a blanket statement, that many of our clients have a hard time understanding the difference between situational stress and chronic stress. The former is usually brought about as a reaction to a stressor. It is usually short lived and may serve as a way to ‘get things done’, address and, when resolved, move on. Pretty much like the zebra who outruns the tiger. When she flees and makes it out alive, she resumes her normal sleep, rest and digest cycles. Unlike humans, the zebra is not replaying the chase in its head; it is not considering joining a gym or lamenting that weight gain has made her slower. No. The chase is over. End of story.
Humans, however, marinate in stress hormones by going over and what happened, or imagining tragic scenarios of what could be. Even though this negative bias has served humans to anchor survival skills, it has also transformed the stress response from a “response” to a “condition”. This is what chronic stress is about. Not being able to turn that flight or fight instinct, OFF.
One of the best ways to illustrate the devastating effects that chronic stress has on the body is to look at the President currently serving office. Assuming we all share the notion that being President of the U.S.A. is probably one of the most challenging jobs in the world, we can see them as an example of what happens when your body does not have time to recover and regenerate properly: How did he look when he came in, and how does he look now? Below is a magnificent article and photos that illustrate just that:
It is worth noting, like the article mentions, that “despite the extraordinary stress levels, many recent presidents have lived well beyond normal life expectancy. Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford died at 93; Jimmy Carter and the George H.W. Bush are 88”. That is where resiliency comes in. Think about that.
Pilar Angel, Co-founder, Axeos