Introduction (10 min)
> Stress is a natural “fight or flight” survival mechanism for all living things
The lioness spots her prey, a young gazelle grazing in the distance.
She carefully creeps closer and closer under the cover of the tall grass to get within attacking distance.
Her moves are smooth, low and slow to prevent from being detected by the gazelle. Her eyes are locked onto the gazelle with laser focus.
This is dinner time.
Suddenly, the gazelle spots lioness. Without thinking, the gazelle instantly explodes into a sprint to the right. Within a split second, the lioness bursts into the chase.
At full speed, the gazelle darts right, left and leaps over obstacles. The lioness is just as fast and nimble and is within inches of taking her down.
As the lioness sweeps the gazelle’s rear leg, both animals lose their footing and dive into a tumble. Incredibly, the gazelle emerges from the cloud of dust and quickly leaps away to safety.
Damn...that was a close one.
You’ve seen this drama played out countless times on wildlife nature documentaries and it happens every day out in the wild.
Nearly all living creatures on this planet have a built-in system to help them stay alive in this world. From a minuscule ant to a gigantic blue whale and everything in between, they all possess an internal survival system that is auto-programmed to react to external threats. And part of that system includes a critical component called stress. It’s what helped that gazelle escape and survive.
As human beings, we have survived the wild due in part to stress and its benefits. Just like modern humans of today, our cave-dwelling ancestors were also stressed out on a daily basis.
But their stress was quite different.
It wasn’t about overdue bills, dealing with bullshit office politics or wrestling with powerpoint issues.
For them, stress was keeping an intense and never-ending look out for crazy-ass animals that could kill them. It’s the damn saber-toothed tiger that keeps coming around or that poisonous snake that sneaks into the cave while they’re sleeping.
In those live or die moments, stress is what can literally save your life.
Stress is your body’s natural physical response to a threat. When you are being threatened or attacked, your brain instantly goes into a “fight or flight” mode.
Your body now has the immediate strength, speed and reaction time to either counter-attack the threat or run away as fast as possible...or in some unfortunate instances, freeze and shit-your-pants.
Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about getting chased by saber-tooth tigers anymore. But, we do have other types of stressors in our modern world, some of which are life-threatening but most of them really aren’t.
Stress In The Modern World
You’re crossing a busy street and all of a sudden, you hear the high-pitched sound of screeching car tires. Your body instantly reacts with rushing adrenaline, tensing muscles and targeted vision to see where the car is coming from and where to escape.
Now...that’s truly life-threatening and stressful.
And what’s crazy is that after the threat is gone, your body is still charged up. Your heart is still racing. Your breathing is still fast and shallow. Hell, even your hands are still nervously shaking for some time. This is your body’s natural reaction.
Out in the wild, many animals will often tremble or involuntarily go into a full body shake after surviving a chase and well after the threat is gone. It’s a natural way for them to discharge all of the excess energy that was generated prior to and during the chase. It allows them to fully "reset" themselves.
The big difference here is that the animals, unlike humans, will completely discharge all of their excess energy in some way or another. To refer to a commonly used phrase, they “shake it off” thoroughly.
For us modern humans, we don’t.
Animals get back to a normal state of being by completing the “fight-or-flight” cycle or loop. Their bodies instantly generate stress energy at the start, use that energy quickly and then, release any leftover excess energy and fully reset. The cycle is completed and they are back to a normal state, both in mind and body.
Animals don’t dwell on what happened in the past or constantly relive the experience in their heads.
The gazelle doesn’t repeatedly think to itself, “damn...that lion was fucking fast! How did I not see her earlier?” Nor do they think forward into the future, “I’m not grazing at that spot anymore...hell no.” They live in the present moment only.
However, for us humans, we have three big strikes against us.
ONE: We often let our minds overrun us.
We’ll often relive or think about what happened in the past, “Why did that have to happen to me last week? It could’ve been anybody else, but it happened me of all people.” Or, we’ll project our worries into the future, “If this doesn’t work out this year, I’m fucked. I don’t know what I’ll do next.” We don’t live in the present...at all.
TWO: Our minds can’t tell what is really a life-threatening situation and what isn’t.
To our minds, the tire screeching event and getting yelled at by our boss are the same thing. Even though we know that getting yelled at won’t end our lives, our bodies still produce the same stress energy as though it would. It lumps all stressors into one giant bucket.
THREE: We don’t release/relieve our stress completely.
In other words, we don’t give ourselves the chance and/or time to truly release or relieve built up stress energy. We don’t complete the loop. We don’t “shake it off” completely. The stress quickly begins to build up internally to the point of mental and physical breakdown.
How This Course Will Help
In this online stress management course, we’ll address these issues by...
> LEARNING the science of stress in simple basic terms
> DEVELOPING an ideal work stress management strategy
> CREATING realistic goals and long-term positive habits
This short video from Learning Junction below provides a great overview of what we're talking about and some of the solutions that we'll be covering in this course.
VIDEO: The Stress Response - Fight or Flight
YOUTUBE CHANNEL: Learning Junction