Stress is a fact of life. Some estimates indicate that 80 percent of all illnesses result from stress. Endocrinologist Hans Selye, who pioneered stress research, distinguished three phases of the stress syndrome: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. Alarm can be a harmless activity like stepping from a warm house into the cold air or receiving an upsetting phone call. Both situations require the body to make an adjustment, which is a kind of resistance. When the demand on the body goes on for too long, the stage of exhaustion sets in, which can lead to a complete breakdown of the body and the mind — be it heart disease, hypertension, failure of the immune system, or mental illness.
(ftNG/ Bad stress creates an imbalance in the body and the mind, causing you to tense your muscles and breathe in a rapid and shallow manner. Under stress, your adrenal glands work overtime and your blood becomes depleted of oxygen, which starves your cells. Constant stress triggers the fight-or-flight response, putting you in a chronic state of alertness that's extremely demanding on your body's energies.
Because of the relentless demands of modern life — work, noise, pollution, and so on — most people experience chronic stress. How can you deal with it efficiently? Yoga suggests a three-pronged solution:
✓ Correct stress-producing attitudes.
✓ Change habits that invite stress into your life.
✓ Release existing tension in the body on an ongoing basis.
Stress can occur without any unpleasant stimulus. Even a birthday celebration can cause you stress, usually because of some hidden anxiety (like another year to mark off). Stress is cumulative and can creep up on you so gradually that it's imperceptible — until its acute and adverse symptoms manifest.
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