Modern Americans are funny about stress. On one hand, it feels like stress is a huge part of our daily lives. It would be tough to make it through the day without using or hearing the word stress. A recent study took a snapshot of stress levels in America. On a scale of 10, with 1 being not stressed at all and 10 being incredibly stressed, the average response in 2015 was 5.1, up from 4.9 in the previous year.
My hunch is that these numbers aren't accurate. I think we're probably underreporting our stress levels. Human beings are an incredibly resilient species. Looking back on my own life, I can remember going to my doctor for my annual physical during time periods when I now realize I was under a ton of stress. I could complain or joke around about my stress with friends, (WTF I'm so stressed out!), but telling my doctor about my stress made it way too real.
"How's your stress level, Karen?" the doctor would ask.
"Fine. Good. Great," I'd answer, normalizing, burying, and denying the reality of my stress.
So here we are, a pretty stressed-out species who talks about stress quite a bit. But the other side of that coin is we aren't very well educated about how stress works, what it does to our bodies and minds, and most importantly, how we can actually manage it on a day-to-day basis.
Part of my work through Karen Costa Wellness is to teach people about stress. I get it; learning about anatomy and physiology can be intimidating. I've been scared of science before too. But look, this is your body. It's the only one you're going to get, at least in this lifetime.
Think of your body as your home (because it is). Moving through life without educating yourself about stress is like only living in one room of your house. It's time to open all of the doors and see what's behind them.
Stay up to date with this blog as I'll be posting regularly about stress, how it works, and how we can manage it. You'll note that my language here is intentional. We can manage our stress; we can't stop it completely. You'll learn here that stress is a physiological (meaning related to a living organism) response to life. If you're alive, you are going to feel some stress. The flip side of that is good news, if you are feeling stress, celebrate — it means you're still breathing.
Western science knows more than ever how stress operates in the body-mind. Eastern wisdom has had an incredible understanding of stress and its inner workings for millennia. By combining the two, we can finally get a grip on our stress levels, allowing us to move away from burnout and toward living a happy, healthy, and calm life.