I have learned that my left upper arm is my ally. My arm starts to ache, I notice it, and then I remember "Oh yeah! My body is telling me that I am stressed."
And sure enough, I am.
Perhaps I am so caught in the moment that I didn't realize the stress, or small things have been building throughout the day. Or maybe something really big has happened and I am so busy attending to details that I am caught unaware. However the stress builds, my left upper arm tells me that it's time to take a deep breath and pay attention.
According to Lancet Oncology, chronic long-term stress activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and is particularly harmful because it can suppress the immune system, and leads to the development of diseases including depression and some types of cancer.
How to de-stress? I do a short body scan and slow my breathing down, then often I go outside. Being in nature (even in the city) works wonders for me. If there is something deeper going on, I notice and attend to it.
Today, I will pay attention to where I hold anxiety and tension and remember to thank my body for its wisdom.