When we are in situations that make us tense, unhappy, depressed, irritable or stress our bodies and brains are flooded with chemical and hormonal changes. We revert to ancient desires to flee or fight the situation, even though we may be in a conference room, doctor’s office or in line at the grocery store. Our bodies and brains react as though we are facing down a fierce enemy. In a sense, we are, and it can be just as injurious as a physical enemy.

In moments our heart rate increases, blood pressure goes up, decision making is harder and we quickly turn to activities such as overeating, drinking alcohol, using nicotine or other chemicals, arguing with others, or isolating. Those activities have short and long term effects on our bodies that can cause illness and even be fatal over enough time. We gain weight more easily, need medications to combat the symptoms of stress and we live in a generally unwell state.

The solution is simple but that doesn’t make it easy. We must introduce new methods for our brain to gain a reward which will still comfort us but in much healthier ways. We must retrain our brains and bodies to be comforted by the rewards offered by exercise, deep breathing, meditation, healthy eating and other holistic practices. When the brain and body finds remedy in these mind-altering practices, we will naturally develop healthier habits. With that comes balanced bodyweight, better circulation, lowered blood pressure and calmer nerves. The chemical and hormonal changes are then positive instead of negative and we can thrive instead of living in discomfort and pain.

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