The Stress is Killing You

 

A recent article in the USA Today Network outlined the affects of stress on our bodies. We already know stress causes increased blood pressure which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Stress also creates an increase in inflammation which is intended to help in fighting infection and aid healing from an injury. But when inflammation is chronic it leads to atherosclerosis, increased cancer risk, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s Disease.  Recently, another alarming effect of stress was discovered. Chronic stress destroys the protective cap around the cells that contain DNA. This cap, telomeres, protects the cells as they duplicate. As the cap deteriorates, the DNA degrades, and our new cells are no longer healthy. In essence, stress is wearing out our body and not only do can we succumb to illness, but we’re aging and dying faster. Stress is literally killing us.

So how does one manage stress? A healthy diet to fight inflammation and keep our cells healthy is the start. We then go to work on reducing stress through exercise, meditation, prayer, mindfulness, and taking time off. We don’t allow ourselves to run by our emotions and our circumstances. We worry less, play more.

But I can’t control everything in life, you say. This is true. Bad things happen, demands are made, time is short, and the work must get done. We can’t control that which is outside of us, but we can control how we respond. We must take what life throws at us and do the best we can with what we have and not worry about the rest. We must learn to improvise.

Taking workshops on improvisation is one of the best ways to deal with stress. In the first place it’s a time to relax, play, and have fun. Play releases endorphins, creates new neural bridges, and activates multiple sections of the brain. Play energizes us and makes us more resilient in body and mind. Play helps the body heal and is a direct antidote to stress.

Aside from the direct physical benefits of playing at improvisation, is the mental ability to stop worry about failure, focusing on the past, and fretting about the future. Improv is a form of mindfulness that keeps one grounded in the moment, which is a proven remedy for stress.

Stress is killing us. We can fight the stress monster in many ways, but one way that ticks all boxes in Improv. It’s play, it’s about relationships, it strengthens our bodies and our minds, and prepares us for what ever the world throws at us. Play Improv – Live Longer!

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