I’ve been banging on a lot lately about relieving stress (because everyone’s so frazzled!). And also because I know that a well regulated nervous system is the foundation for all my clients want to do (embrace new ways, stop playing it small and safe, get clear on what they want, feel comfortable in who they are, take their place in a safe and sustainable way).
But managing stress isn’t just about avoiding it – there’s good stress too! Many stressors are good for us, making us stronger and more resilient – it’s all about balance. There is something called hormesis, which is essentially that in the right doses, certain stressors or toxins actually have an overall positive impact on the body.
“Hormesis is commonly defined as a beneficial or stimulatory effect caused by exposure to low doses of an agent known to be toxic at higher doses.”
It’s not as odd as it sounds – the benefits of eating vegetables and exercising come from hormesis. And the big health trends right now are very hormesis-heavy, like cold exposure, intermittent fasting and infrared saunas (all of which I’ve found helpful for my health).
As with any of these things, it’s all about balance and building capacity. And this goes for mental stress too. The body is incredible, fuelling you with superhuman powers (from steroid-like hormones) when needed so you can operate at your peak, mentally and physically. Both this is to deal with an imminent “danger” – a short burst rather than the chronic stress we tend to be in. And so to harness the magic of this system, we need to use it carefully (think of the snoozing lion in between catching pray or battling for territory).
And so once more, I’m back to the beauty of being in charge of our stress levels. Of using stress in a targeted way to help performance. But on our terms, rather than it being in charge of us.