What we are afraid of can hurt us. Scientists working in the field of psychophysiology (a field of study based on the principal that the mind and body are one) are proving that regardless of whether or not our fears are real or perceived, our bodies react the same way.
Imagine you are walking through the jungle in Asia and come face to face with a snake. Your mind gets ready to fight or flee. However your body is already jumping into action.
Your Sympathetic Nervous System releases epinephrine (adrenaline) into your system which triggers a physiological readiness response to the threat. Your pupils and bronchi dilate. Your heart rate increases and force of myocardial contractions increase. The blood vessels to your working muscles open up for greater blood flow, and your liver releases glucose into the system for immediate available energy to meet the threat. This reaction may last only a few seconds or as long as the threat is perceived. It is meant to be a specific physical response to real danger.
Now imagine yourself preparing for the board meeting. Your mind is pouring over the countless hazards you are trying to predict and prepare for. You can almost see and feel yourself the center of attention in a meeting you wished you'd prepared better for. Or, imagine your daily heavy workload with looming deadlines, downed servers and mountains to climb by week's end when email goes down.
Your body can't tell the difference. You experience the same physiological response from perceived threats as actual threats. The only problem is, you encounter perceived or possible threats about 100 times more often than actual threats.
With the alarming rate of chronic fatique syndrome, the word in some medical circles is that many Americans may suffer from adrenal fatigue due to prolonged stress. Because of the amount of prolonged stress many Americans admit to experiencing, the adrenal glands begin to work overtime. Signs of exhaustion and the inability to produce the chemicals and hormones needed for fight or flight appear to give credence to Hans Seyle's General Adaptation Syndrome. The symptoms of adrenal insufficiency include fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, low blood sugar (resulting in cravings and weight gain) and depression. Weak adrenals are associated with incidents of autoimmune diseases, ranging from chronic fatigue syndrome and lupus, to rheumatoid arthritis and aggravated symptoms of menopause.
So what to do?
Understanding the problem is the key to finding the solution. The number one treatment for stress is to make some time every day to be relaxed and free from fear. Meditation is proven to provide the greatest relief from stress over any other methods. Of course exercising and a healthy diet are always great ideas too. But I might pose a deeper question. Is this really how you want to experience your working life? Every day we wake up and make a decision to go to work. In this action we are demonstrating that we believe the deal we have with our employer is acceptable and fair; otherwise we would not participate. What would you sacrifice for $1.00 a day? Probably not much. What would you sacrifice for $100,000 per day? The trick is to discover for yourself where that scale balances out for you. If you like your job, then embrace it, focus on the positives and drop the negative complaining. If you are unhappy or staying in place out of fear, then maybe it's time to really look at who you want to be when you "grow up."
The beauty is we all have the freedom to make our own choices, and life will respect those choices either way we decide to lean. I wish you all a fearless and happy road to your destiny.