Allostatic load…..this may sound like a mouthful, but is a concept that is useful to explain the load that is upon your shoulders including the worries that prevent you from sleeping at night. Allostatic load is a negative form of stress that literally ‘weighs us down’ and eventually causes us to become ill.
This toxic negative stress also leads to inflammation of the brain which prevents us from forming new neural connections – in other words we become unable to learn, develop and grow. So what can you do to lighten your allostatic load and combat stress?
The first thing we need to accept is the lifestyles that we are living in today’s modern age are not healthy, nor are they natural. Time and time again we hear that ‘work life balance’ is a big problem, and our clients wish they had more ‘me’ time. We are living a life that is out of balance and in crisis. As a result we lose sight of the very things that help us cope and stay healthy; the aspects of our lives and ourselves that keep us in balance.
The human body was not designed to be sedentary, sitting behind a desk from nine to five (or seven to seven!). Exercise has been proven to not only reduce stress hormones in the body, but also causes neural pathways to grow and form: in other words, exercise keeps you young! Dramatic results have been found in seniors who simply start walking for an hour every day. Neuro-scientist Bruce McEwen has revealed that exercise can be more effective in a social environment, and making time to exercise in a fun, social way is a great way to recharge your batteries whilst taking care of your health.
Social support is a dimension that is necessary to balance the human being. In times of crisis, many people withdraw from their friends and loved ones. Being lonely can also add to your allostatic load. We must attempt to increase our social contact and nourish our important relationships rather than neglect them during times of crisis.
Every human being has a spiritual dimension. We are not referring to religion or new age philosophy, but simply the aspect of each and every one of us that seeks to find meaning. Viktor Frankl, famous psychologist and holocaust survivor, pioneered the idea that the strongest motivational force we can tap into is the meaning we are able to create for ourselves. A concentration camp survivor, Frankl noticed that the prisoners who had a sense of meaning in their lives survived, whilst those who couldn’t not find it sadly perished under the dreadful circumstances.
So how does one find meaning when one feels out of balance? When we neglect ourselves during times of toxic stress, we forget the things in life that bring us joy. So often we see that as business people we are so driven towards material goals that along the way, we lose sight of who we are and what we want to contribute to the world at large, and more importantly what we, as human beings, what to receive both on a daily basis and from life in all its beauty. This is purely a result of chronic toxic stress and the loss of connection with self. To restore the balance, we need to make time for the things that bring us joy on a daily basis. We need to make time for ourselves once again.
Living with the world resting upon your shoulders is neither a healthy nor a sustainable option. The good news is change really is possible if we simply focus on the restoration of balance by making time to appreciate ourselves as individuals – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Embracing our experience of life in full integrity of the experience of self often through the expression of self is crucial to our fulfilment and happiness, and vital to unlocking our creativity and vitality.
When last did you take time out for you? When last did you do something for you? Or do you regard this as ‘selfish’?
We are so programmed to doing things for others, assuming that we know what others want, and as a result we no longer live our own lives, and find ourselves in a world where no one receives what they need, or want. But whose life are you living anyway?
Taking time out to ‘play more’ is not an option, but a necessity if we really want to operate on all levels with vitality, energy and creativity. And it is essential to shed the guilt associated with doing things for ourselves, as only by looking after ourselves first, can we truly be strong for others, in business, and in life.
We cannot deny that as human beings we are complex organisms, with multiple dimensions! To neglect any aspect of that which makes us human, will result in dis-ease, and decreased effectiveness. To be successful, you have to be happy and healthy to achieve your goals.
Taking care of you, all of you, is crucial and whilst we may argue with ourselves that we do not have the time or that these things are not important, in the bigger scheme of things, what could be more important that looking after ourselves?
Taking a step back to examine where we can create more balance is vital to our ability to not only succeed, but to sustain our success both in business and in life.
For more information on stress management and making time for the important things contact firstname.lastname@example.org.