The fight or flight response which apparently evolved as a survival mechanism is still with us today. I was reminded of this twice in recent days. The first was when reading an article in the Guardian newspaper on studies showing that moderate stress is actually good for us. The second was in a video from Action for Happiness where there was reference to negativity being a common human disposition arising from the need of our ancestors to be ever vigilant and on their guard, ready to fight or flee at all times.
So there I was in recent blog entries revelling in the concept of finally learning to relax, when all along it seems that it's not necessarily a natural state and that a degree of stress actually promotes longevity. My inevitable reaction was that to be expected of the negative, cynical person that I am, namely: but cavemen never got the opportunity to retire and didn't live very long either!
Obviously nothing that I have read this week alters the fact that chronic stress can wreak havoc on the body contributing to high blood pressure, hormonal changes leading to obesity, anxiety and depression and other issues ultimately causing long-term damage to both physical and mental well-being. Somebody once explained to me the apparent incongruity between healthy and chronic stress as climbing a mountain where the adrenaline released whilst heading upwards allows us to perform at our peak, but push ourselves too far and we tumble down the other side, unable to take the pressure of travelling ever onwards and upwards. Little wonder so many enter retirement burnt-out from the workplace.
Reading the Guardian article again, I now realise that it is essentially putting some of the science behind the health benefits of exercise into an anthropological framework. Physical exercise resulting in muscular stress aids us physically and also mentally, promoting a healthier potentially longer life. That stress stimulates both the body and brain helping us to age better.
Darn, forget those duvet days and the nurturing of positivity, this woman now needs a woolly mammoth to chase.