Dr Gwendolynn Diaz, AyD
Stress and Slow Medicine
Stress and Slow Medicine
The ideas for Slow Medicine have been percolating with us for years, because as yoga teachers and body workers we have been consistently surrounded by people looking for relief and a different way to manage their day to day stress.
To effectively combat chronic stress it helps to know a little bit more about it…
Stress is a perceived disconnect between a situation and our resources to deal with the situation. In other words, stress is a (real or imagined) threat that taxes our resources. The operative word here is perceived. Stress does not always arise from an actual threat; but if we perceive it to be a threat, then it's a threat. The fact that stress is a perception also means that we can do something about it. We can train ourselves (or we can be trained by a professional, if necessary) to change our perspective.
Acute stress serves an important role in our lives and can protect us from imminent danger, it can also invigorate us into action. The problem really comes when the stress becomes chronic. When instead of protecting you from a lurking stranger in the alley, your primary stress becomes your unending to-do list, and as a result the stress response never really decreases. This goes a little deeper into why chronic stress and burnout have become a forgone conclusion for this generation.
Chronic stress has become a characteristic of modern life, and as a result so has cortisol production. Cortisol is that pesky stress hormone, that it turns out is less pesky and more deeply toxic, since it can, wait for it, actually shrink your brain. When you’re stressed your cortisol bathed brain creates fewer new brain cells, and this can lead to depression, it affects concentration, and impairs your judgement. More long term than fighting your open concept colleagues, it also makes it harder for you to learn and remember, which can lead to Alzheimer's. Not to mention the many other lasting effects on the rest of the body.
The bottom line is, that consistent chronic stress on the system wreaks havoc, to help mitigate this we’ve designed Slow Medicine to help you create a deeper connection to your body and to recognize and modulate your stress response. Thereby helping your brain to regenerate and heal itself through a process called neuroplasticity. By taking time out you can actually begin to develop new cortisol receptors that make it easier to receive and process stress. Effectively decreasing the long term effects of chronic stress, and turning those stressor moments into creative sparks.
Stress is everywhere, and as the world around us becomes more complex it will continue to rise. The key is finding ways to tap into what your body needs and to support it.