Do you know the number one cause of stress and worry? Do you know what it does to your body? Do you know how I know for sure what I’m about to tell you?

Let’s start in the middle of those questions…

Stress, worry and anxiety all have the effect of raising the levels of cortisol (literally a stress hormone) in your bloodstream which has multiple effects on your system. Firstly it causes heightened awareness, now you might think this is a good thing but that awareness is coupled with a primitive survival instinct which causes irrational anxiety and eventually paranoia when the only threat in the average day to day 21st century western environment is whether your cappuccino  is too hot and whether or not your partner is sleeping with someone else while you’re apart (which of course you have no evidence of but you’re paranoid so who said evidence is even relevant?)… So your system is flooded with cortisol, what next? This self producing steroid hormone is designed for your survival: diverting all available resources to your brain for fast thinking (now paranoia) and to your arms and legs, heart and lungs for fast escape from oncoming danger (hot cappuccino)… your body doesn’t understand the type of perceived threat, it just understands fear, stress, survival… all the same: fight or flight. In this process your secondary systems shut down like your digestive system. Who in their right mind would stop to pick and eat berries in the event of a dinosaur attack? Remember theses are primitive responses and that’s what they are designed for… so now you’ve gone off your cappuccino altogether and you’re probably going to struggle eat until the stress subsides… however, those muscles require fuel to keep running so now you’re only interested in high fat, high carb (somebody get me a bag of chips)… this is what we call comfort eating. Cortisol, steroids in general, whether naturally produced or pharmaceutical cause the body to metabolize carbs at an intense rate causing it to bulk up (hence athletes are known to use them).

So, you’re stressed, you’re paranoid, for the most part you can’t eat but when you do its calorific garbage, so now your body is in starvation mode and not sure when the next influx of carbs is arriving so it stores everything just in case… and now your arse is spreading exponentially. What’s next? Did I mention your immune system is systematically shutting down? Yes, stress lowers your immune system until you can’t fight off anything and even the common cold has you laid out for weeks on end thinking you’re dying.

How do I know? Have you been following me on Facebook? In approximately 2004 I hit this exact scenario, so badly in fact that I was admitted to the tropical diseases unit at the hospital because they thought I had contracted SARS or bird flu. When they discovered my cortisol levels were off the charts they referred me to be tested for adrenal cancer as corticosteroids are produced by the adrenal glands. I was lucky, it was negative, but that, the shock of my life, taught me what real stress looked like. I was eventually diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and told there was no cure… bollocks to that! They hadn’t heard of The Wholly Grail.

So we’ve dealt with what it does and how I know, but what’s the number one cause of stress?

Where are you? When are you?

If you are present in the moment and focused only on what’s in front of you, dealing with the facts that you are currently aware of and not speculating on ifs, buts and maybes then the chances are you are perfectly fine. Reading this whilst in imminent danger seems pretty implausible so why not take a moment to relax, breathe and notice that there is nothing going on right now that you have to fear. What’s coming won’t improve by being tense, what’s already happened isn’t going to improve at all because you cannot change history no matter how much you stress over it so why not enjoy NOW?

The number one cause of stress in the western world is not being present.

Practice Principle 2: I AM Detached and see how that cortisol level drops relatively quickly so that you can enjoy your hot cappuccino, avoid pesky illness and regain  your appetite for healthy foods in no time at all… then you’ll be much better equipped to deal with real stress if and when it ever does come along.

More later… x

Ps. If you have already hit burn out and are suffering from similar issues to where I was in 2004 then drop me line to find out how The Wholly Grail’s Self-Full Living Programme can help you rebuild from the bottom.

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