Seize the Day!

We spend a lot of time planning the future, worrying about what will happen to us, fearing the unknown. Thus, our daily life is punctuated by the constant effort to defend ourselves. We devote great energy to the protection of the future, forgetting the joy of experiencing the present. The fight against unexpected events generates tension and stress.

While people usually attribute a negative value to stress, generalizing a more complex psycho-physiological mechanism, stress comes from an evolutionarily adaptive activation in response to a change in the balance between body and environment. Adrenaline prompts us to react quickly to events which may be potentially threatening to our survival. In other words, as the painful sensation associated with a wound is a wake up call that spurs us to avoid further danger, stress is also a signal to respond optimally to environmental events.
Although stress is initially a positive state of alert, prolonged exposure to stressful situations can lead to frustration and secretion of the hormone cortisol, in association with unpleasant symptoms, which eventually make us less able to cope with potentially dangerous circumstances.

The ideal activation lies in a healthy balance. But how do you cope with the difficulties of balancing the right activation level without experiencing anxiety crises? What we should do is changing our mental attitude, that is our system of evaluation of environmental stimuli.
There is great interindividual variability in the way we react to stressful circumstances. This is because the body's reactions, though automatic, are still influenced by cognitive processing. Everyone has a personal story of life with experiences and memories that profoundly affect one's system of evaluation of situations. The interpretation of an event as threatening or harmless is linked to prior learning that shapes the patterns of behavior and thought, allowing to perform a rapid and reliable prediction of the likely consequences of decisions.

There are plenty of random and inevitable events that might occur and that are outside of our control. As we rush to try to orchestrate the future to prevent them, they are there and always will be. Living in a constant effort to safeguard the future is an unnecessary stress that prevents us from enjoying the present. Our real weapon against the stressors is gaining control over our emotional reactions: the impact of adversity on our well-being depends on the way we process them by using strategies for positive activation instead of distress.

Firstly, it is important to stop treating any task as if it is life or death. The first step towards peace is precisely attributing the correct importance to things in everyday life. We are deeply alarmed by the idea of changes, we like feeling safe in our habits and we feel threatened by possible disruptions. The best way to overcome the fears that run after us is running against them.
The beauty of having faced great revolutions is the valuable learning that you always survive and after you feel stronger. Let's value the enrichment that an evolution of our habits can make to our lives, our story and our self-esteem. News keeps us alive.

There are choices in life whose simplicity has miraculous benefits. Let's abandon the categorical imperatives and exhausting objectives for which we are not going to get any medal other than that of premature aging! Let's prefer serenity to virtuosity and invest in this: the joy of a leisurely stroll rather than the maniacal fury of physical activity in order to lose weight by the summer. A good read, although there is still laundry to do. Let's also think about what makes us feel good, instead of being obsessedby what others expect of us.

Marzia VaccaroI Like Italy

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