Each day that you ignore a basic need, you bring yourself closer to chronic disease and a reduction in your quality of life. Every time you skip a break, vacation or weekend chill, you deny your body of the thing it craves—the opportunity to get off proverbial trolley car. Your body must have down time. Period.
If you look up the stats for the leading causes of death , you will find probably what you’d expect to see: heart disease, cancer and stroke. Stress ranks as a common denominator in many of these conditions.
Chronic stress puts your body in a constant state of fight-or-flight response. In these situations, your heart rate and respiration increase. Your body switches priorities to stress situations and away from passive activities such as digestion. Adrenaline flows freely to help you cope with this state.
Your body’s responses are appropriate and often vital in these cases. However, as a continual state, it will drain you physically and mentally. These effects further put you at risk for disease because your body can’t fight off pathogens adequately. Over time, it can lead to chronic health conditions and more serious outcomes.
Dropping out from the situations causing you stress can help you avoid these health consequences. You need to remove yourself mentally and physically away from the sources. Your body will then relax and let down its guard.
Your breathing will return to a more steady rhythm. Your heart will stop racing. You will feel comfortable closing your eyes. Imagine that wave of relaxation washing over your body and mind. Doesn’t it feel good?
Finding Your Sanctuary
There are many ways to achieve this state of being. You can read a book and immerse yourself in a different world. Some prefer to exercise and enjoy the yummy endorphins. Another way to capture these feelings is to give yourself over to Nature.
Perhaps it taps into some primal instinct that we all have within us. It may be falling into a different pace that is not set by demands of anything else. It could just be because it feels so damn good. As Yoshifumi Miyazaki, director of the Center for Environment Health and Field Sciences at Chiba University in Japan explains, “…forests makes people calm.”
You don’t need to go on a vision quest. All it takes is some quality time outdoors—away from all things urban. Go to the forest, the beach or the prairie. Feel the wind on your skin. Listen to the birds and water. Find your sense of calm in a place that doesn’t depend on schedules, meetings, phone calls, irritable clients and bosses.
Get in touch with the you deep inside who wanders the paths with no other concept of time than night and day. Let Nature take you by the hand and show you the way. She’s waiting; she always is.