Everybody is stressed, some people more so than others but at some stage we all suffer from a form of stress or anxiety in our lives.
Stress is a part of life; Life can be very challenging at times.
The good news is there are things we can do to improve our stress and therefore improve our quality of life.
Acute stress (stress here and now) is a normal part of life and something we can deal with. Chronic stress (constant state of stress) is where the main issues with your physical and mental health can be affected.
When we become stressed a physiological reaction happens. Hormones are released adrenaline and cortisol. Heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, appetite goes, sex drive goes, you begin sweating. These are all physical signs of stress. Your brain is sending signals to the body that something is wrong, and we better get out of here quickly.
That reaction is good if it is a clear and present danger, for example that dog down the street is running after you and frothing at the mouth. Blood is pumped to where it is needed most, and you get yourself out of that situation. Ever here people talk about how strong they were, or they ran faster than they ever could when faced with a life or death situation? There body is pumping glucose to the areas needed most, muscles and brain and shuts down non-essential areas. This leads to high alertness and being physically able to get away from the danger.
Once the stress has past this acute stress can take up to 20-30 minutes to start bringing levels back to normal.
The problem of chronic stress is when this sense of alertness and chemical reactions in the body stay heightened. Mainly due, not to a, physical stress but a mental stress we are creating in our minds. This stress will keep sending those fight or flight signals around the body and when elevated cortisol and adrenaline remain over long periods. That is where we can see many health implications.
What can I do about stress?
Most of our stress is mental. It is the conversations we are having in our heads with ourselves. It is the stories we create in our heads and a lot of the time these stories are exactly that, stories. Not factual information but assumptions we are making. Which lead us into our stressed state.
When managing stress there are a few things to try:
- When you feel yourself becoming stressed try to first recognise what it is that has you stressed.
- Stop sit still, close your eyes and take 10 big deep breaths.
- Write down on paper exactly what has you feeling anxious.
- Write down one thing you can do to try and improve the situation.
- If there is something you can do about it then try and do that one thing.
If there is absolutely nothing you can do about the situation then should you stress about it?
- Writing your thoughts in a journal daily can really help with stress levels.
- Meditation or deep breathing for 2 minutes a day. Use apps like calm or headspace.
- Exercise regularly has massive benefits for stress relief.
- Taking time to yourself once a week to be selfish and do something you enjoy.
- Stress is a part of life, but it is also something we can learn to try and manage.
Like everything else you won’t know If it works for you until you give it a go.
Remember, Thoughts and emotions are just that, You are not your thoughts, you are not your emotions.