The Discomfort Zone

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Have you looked in the mirror lately and thought about how much you’ve aged in the past year? Past 4? I watched Wanda Sykes’ Stand-Up special, “Not Normal” on @netflix the other night (highly recommend!), and she recounted a discernible observation—the major stress of the job as POTUS clearly has shown its effects on past presidents: Obama went full-on gray within 2 years as POTUS. George W. shrunk a few inches & Clinton grew a weird thing on his nose. She says in her act. Then she mentioned Trump, who has not aged at all. Why? “He’s on executive time. Trump hasn’t aged.” And then she said something even more profound—“But WE have. He is fucking us up. Everybody’s looking older. My God. HE IS FUCKING US UP.”

Damn. Ain’t that the truth? How many of you feel like you’ve aged a decade in this administration? Hell, the past 6 months? Stress has its obvious affects on us, whether it’s biting nails, teeth grinding, losing sleep, not eating, overeating —to more deeply rooted effects like depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes. The list goes on and on. Like a disease, stress takes over our bodies and all its systems. Our Immune system (making us more susceptible to getting sick); our Musculoskeletal system (giving us headaches and migraines); the Respiratory system (heavy breathing, shortness of breath); Cardiovascular (the increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which in the long-term can increase the risk for strokes, heart attacks & hypertension). When the Endocrine system is affected it increases its production of glucocorticoids, including cortisol production of steroid “Stress hormones.” The overproduction of these hormones is directly linked to obesity & diabetes, among other diseases. The Gastrointestinal system and its moving parts are all affected from difficulty swallowing, heartburn-like symptoms, to nausea & vomiting and our bowels. The Nervous system (the pilot of our bodies) is central to all of this because it regulates the autonomic nervous system and interprets potential threats, signaling the other systems to react.

Stress is not good for any of us. And it’s hard to say, “don’t stress” while we’re in a global pandemic, a civil rights movement, a recession, and people are dying because of it. What I will say is this: love and hug your loved ones if you can, when you can. Express gratitude, spread kindness and love, meditate, smoke a bowl, make passionate love, eat healthy foods, watch movies with puppies and kittens, practice safe social distancing & fight the good fight—do what you gotta do to keep your body strong and in good health. We’ve got a lot more work to do, and we can’t really “work” if we’re sick.

Source material: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-body

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