How well do you handle stress? Would you like an easy way to handle stress?
Think back to the last big problem or crisis you had to deal with? Try to remember what was the most stressful part about it? Can you remember?
Most likely, the most stressful aspect was imagining all the possible consequences that might occur due to that certain event. For example, if your car broke down, you might have suddenly started imagining yourself not having a car anymore or dealing with huge repair bills or being late for an appointment or even losing your job over it. It’s these thoughts which cause you far more stress than the actual problem.
What is Stress?
Stress is defined as a mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from demanding circumstances. Our mind, body, and soul are interconnected and because of this there is a direct correlation between how we are reacting to everyday stressors and the effect these stressors have on our body.
Dr. Hans Seyle, an endocrinologist and also known as the “Father” in the field of stress research is quoted, “It is not stress that kills us, but our reaction to it.” We can begin to manage our reaction to stress in many different ways. Remembering to take a moment to be still and breathe, daily meditation practice, yoga, and being in nature are some simple ways to get started dealing with stress levels. Everyone is different in how they react to stress and therefore are different in the way they manage it. Selye made it easier for people to understand where their stress comes from. He did this by creating a model called the Variables of the Stress Response. This model goes over perception, conditioning factors, and coping mechanisms; all of which determine our response and duration of stress.
Stressors come and go, but the way we perceive our life’s stress whether it is physical, internal, or psychosocial affect our daily life. Our perception of a stressor could be a conscious or unconscious thought. Many times we do not realize what is bothering us because we do not take the time to notice how we are perceiving things. If every time we see our boss and we think “I hate him because he stresses me out” then our body begins to believe this mental message and will accommodate this thought by sending messages from your brain to your body to go into flight or fight mode.
The next part of the Variables of the Stress Response determines the duration of our response. Our conditioning factors include: health/nutrition status, personality, spirituality, and prior exposure to stressors. If we are in good health and eating right we will be in better condition to deal with stress. Also our genetics, personality, and spirituality determine our stress resistance. Our coping mechanism is the last variable which could be adaptive or maladaptive. Coping mechanisms vary from person to person and include psychological, physiological, cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and spiritual. The way we cope with our stressors determine the manifestations of our response.
Once we understand that stress is something ordinary that we all deal with we can start to look at how to manage stress in a healthy way.
Some of the effects of stress on your body-
A tendency to sweat, Back pain, Chest pain, Cramps or muscle spasms, Fainting spell, Headache, Heart disease, Hypertension, Loss of libido, Lower immunity against diseases, Muscular aches, Nail biting, Nervous twitche, Pins and needles, Sleeping difficulties, and Stomach upset
Possible effects of stress on your thoughts and feelings:
Anger, Anxiety, Burnout, Depression, Feeling of insecurity, Forgetfulness, Irritability, Problem concentrating, Restlessness, Sadness, Fatigue
Possible effects of stress on your behavior:
Eating too much, Eating too little, Food cravings, Sudden angry outbursts, Drug abuse, Alcohol abuse, Higher tobacco consumption, Social withdrawal, Frequent crying, and Relationship problems.
During times of stress become aware of what you’re feeling. If you’re feeling depressed, anxious, or upset then start to question your thoughts. What are you thinking about; the current situation or the possible consequences? Are you going to let this circumstance take away your happiness?
If you catch yourself thinking about what you're afraid might happen, you’re focusing on future things that may never happen. Take a deep breath and let those thoughts go. They don’t serve you.
Bring yourself back to the present moment and simply deal with what’s in front of you without the added “stories”.
Remind yourself that it’s always your choice as to how you react to an event.
Exercise. The research keeps growing — exercise benefits your mind just as well as your body. Even a 20-minute walk, run, swim or dance session in the midst of a stressful time can give an immediate effect that can last for several hours!
Smile and laugh, Our brains are interconnected with our emotions and facial expressions. When people are stressed, they often hold a lot of the stress in their face. So even fake laughing or smiling can help relieve some of that tension and improve the situation.
Call a friend, send an email. When you share your concerns or feelings with another person, it does help relieve stress.
Meditate. Meditation and mindful prayer help the mind and body to relax and focus. Mindfulness can help people see new perspectives, develop self-compassion and forgiveness. When practicing a form of mindfulness, people can release emotions that may have been causing the body physical stress. Much like exercise, research has shown that even meditating briefly can reap immediate benefits.