The Differences Between Cavemen and Present-Time Stress, and Its Impact



Back in the day, when humanity lived in caves, hunted and gathered food from the forest, we had a built in survival mechanism that kicked in when we were under stress.  This survival mechanism came in handy, especially when we were being chased by a tiger or if we were fighting with another clan.  The reason why is because when our survival mechanism is triggered, it triggers a fight or flight response.  This response comes from the subconscious mind, and it comes in very handy because people would react without thinking, and those extra few thoughts spent thinking about what course of action to take might have cost us our lives.

For example, if you are walking along a sidewalk and notice a car is coming at you, do you stop and think to yourself, “Should I run left or right?  Or should I just jump in the air as the car comes closer?  Or should I fall flat on the ground?”  Of course not, often our bodies just react automatically, and thank goodness for that because it may save our lives.

Nowadays in the Western World, we still have our survival mechanism.  But while we have changed, it has not at all.  Once we reach a certain threshold of stress, we go into that mode and nowadays it isn’t too often that we are being chased by a tiger.  With intelligence and evolution came new ideas, new ways of thinking and new inventions…and new stresses.  Many of us live in well-protected homes and have little-to-no life-threatening scenarios on a day-to-day basis (not everyone, but most people in Western civilization).  But just because we experience safety on a daily basis doesn’t mean that our survival mechanism doesn’t kick in.  In fact, in an article by nzwomensweekly (here) it may possibly kick in MORE nowadays as compared to cavemen times.  In cavemen times, we experienced stress less frequently, and in short bursts whereas nowadays studies are pointing more and more to constant exposure to stress which leads to health complications and even has an effect on our quality of Life.

In an article written by the huffington post, “A whopping 91 percent of Americans said they felt stressed at least once in the last month, according to a new national survey by The Huffington Post. More than two thirds of the 1,000-plus survey respondents said they are stressed weekly or more. Among the biggest causes of stress in our lives were home organization, pressure to be more productive, bills, weight and getting too little sleep.”  Full article available here.

For example, many of us experience stress daily:  we go to work, we get stuck in a jam, we may be late for a meeting, we forget about a report that is due, we may spend more than we make, we get a bill in the mail and all of this compiled creates a lot of stress in our lives.  Actually, more aptly stated, our reaction to these things creates stress in our lives…and this stress actually gives us that fight or flight response.  This is why some experience road rage, or snap at their loved ones, or even sometimes freak out over little things…. In caveman days, we had outlets to release this tension~ we walked, sometimes for miles, looking for food, water or shelter.  Most days we had to hunt or gather and nowadays many of us spend most of our daily Life in a home or office really only getting out on the weekends (if at all).

Now please keep in mind that this article is relative; not everyone experiences the same thing day in and day out.  But as our stress builds up and isn’t released in a constructive outlet, this stress can show up on our physical body as wrinkles, that spare tire around the belly, or manifest as a short temper which can have an effect on our relationships both professionally and personally.

In conclusion, while our daily Life may have appeared to become more safe and docile, this contradicts what many of us experience.  Our survival mechanisms haven’t changed much, but what we react to has.  So what can we do to relieve some of this tension?  What can we do to express this pent-up energy?

1) Exercise

Exercise is a great way to release some of that tension that is building up.  On top of that, our bodies produce endorphines after a workout, and endorphines are hormones that leave us feeling relaxed and happy.  This is a great practice to take on because we are not only transmuting stress, but we have an automatic reward system that our body produces naturally.

2) Meditate

Meditation, or taking up a meditation course is very helpful in producing a more calm and relaxed state.  When done daily over a period of time, studies actually show that meditation not only rests our body and mind (sometimes better than sleep itself), but it trains us to focus better, to not react so much to what is happening outside of us, and supports us in feeling centered and grounded more and more often.  Personally, I began to notice that even in stressful situations, I could keep calm and grounded and could respond to the situation instead of react to it.  If you are interested in taking up a meditation course in Kuala Lumpur, I highly recommend Clove&Clive’s Mindfulness: A Starting Point.  You can click here for more details.

3) De-stress

Besides exercising and meditating, another great way to rid ourselves of stress is to make it a point to de-stress often.  Take time to go and get that massage, acupuncture or spa treatment.  You can go for aromatherapy or take a mini-vacation within your own city for half a day.  If you want to conserve money, take a day to be a tourist in your own city.  Check out sites that you perhaps haven’t seen, take a cab, or go to the zoo.  Find a constructive way to ‘live in the now.’  This supports us in releasing stress and tension as well and it can be fun to either do it alone or with a friend.

In summary, before we can really begin de-stressing, we must first become aware of what triggers us in the first place.  What stresses you out?  And once you are aware of it, what can you do to respond to it instead of react?  This little piece of gold can support you in living a healthier, happier and more grounded Life experience.

Because Life is Effortless,

Jana Moreno


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