Allostatic load: It sounds like a setting on a washer/dryer, not a potential health risk. Like your laundry basket, you’ll want to keep your allostatic load fresh and light. iRest—along with basic tools like diet, exercise, and social support—can help.
The root of the term is allostasis, which refers to the process of achieving stability in the midst of change. These days, many of us are enduring changes of monumental proportions—from career and finances to housing and relationships. Along the way, we shoulder accumulated chronic stress, the measure of which is known as allostatic load. Here’s an illustrated explanation for laypeople.
Just as we would tire of walking up a long, steep hill, we grow weary from carrying an unwieldy allostatic load. While some types of anxiety and stress help us identify threats and survive, continual stress can become pathological and highly damaging. After several months of living amid a pandemic, some of these behaviors will seem familiar:
- Memory loss, brain fog
- Compromised attention span
- Poor decision making that is more impulsive, less reflective
- Lack of innovation, reliance on routine behavior
- Eroding ability to weather adversity
Today, these factors exist simultaneously with what COVID-19 itself can do to the human brain, as described here.
What’s especially dangerous is that these behavioral changes can occur gradually, without our awareness. Honestly, it’s stressful just to think about, isn’t it?
iRest offers practical support for anyone experiencing chronic stress. (This study is just one example of reported evidence.) With meditative practices such as BodySensing and BreathSensing, iRest can offer you a better feel for your health as you tune into your physical being and observe its needs. Where you find chronic stress, you might send more breath and energy. In any case, knowing your body will allow you to safely navigate any dangers ahead.
Want to try using iRest meditation to monitor and lighten your allostatic load? Try this simple practice for stress management.