|For most of evolution, a human's lifestyle was very different |
to what we experience today. Image: Wyoming_Jackrabbit
Often we can't avoid stressors, and we can't easily change the basic biological response of the human body. Attention has therefore focused on ways of coping with life stress. Methods include:
- Exercise. This is effective, because it naturally metabolises the stress hormones and excess glucose released during fight-or-flight. However, it is not always possible to fit in a run during busy times!
- Time management. Often the best way to deal with the stressor is to avoid it - by prioritising, and managing deadlines more carefully.
- Meditation. This can be effective, and is easier to fit in than some alternatives. The individual focuses on a simple stimulus such as a chant or a candle. It can provide a simple way of clearing the mind from worries, and incorporates deep breathing which helps deactivate the stress response. When meditating, people are both relaxed and alert.
Slagter et al. (2007) studied whether meditation can help people over the long-term as well. They found that three months of meditation improved participants’ abilities to perform an attention-based task, which involved spotting numbers among a group of letters. This shows that meditation can help people to deal with life demands.
Slagter, H.A., Lutz, A., Greischar, L.L., Francis, A.D., Nieuwenhuis, S., Davis, J.M. and Davidson, R.J. (2007). Mental training affects distribution of limited brain resources. PloS Biology, 5, e138.