How to Cope with Stress?
How does stress affect your body?
Your body contains an amazing system called the emergency response system. When activated, hormones are released into your blood causing your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing, all to increase.
However, that’s just the beginning. Your body has extra stores of glucose and blood cells that it infuses into your bloodstream. The resulting infusion and cascade of reactions prepares your body to deal with the stressor.
The fight-or-flight response can happen quickly when you face imminent danger (such as a thief or a pit-bull attack). The response is specially designed to help you perform under pressure or to be better equipped to deal with danger. So, stress can be a good thing.
After the cause of your stress or stressor, has been eliminated, your body should return to its original condition.
But what happens if the stressor remains. Just as the RPM’s of an engine can stay revved up in the red zone, so the stressor can cause you to feel extremely tense or anxious.
Coping with chronic or long-term stress can be very difficult. An article in health index nimh.nih.gov explains why, here it says: “Because the source of long-term stress is more constant than acute stress, the body never receives a clear signal to return to normal functioning.”
Examples of this are those who have fought in wars or who have had a serious accident. They often experience what’s called traumatic or post-traumatic stress.
So, reducing stress is important to both your physical health and your mental well-being.
What has left you stressed?
▪ Job Insecurity
▪ Work overload
▪ Personal conflicts
▪ Sudden shocks
▪ Facing Danger
▪ Loss of something valuable
▪ A post-traumatic experience
How has stress affected you personally?
▪ Physical and Emotional exhaustion
▪ Sleep depravation
▪ Feelings of Depression
▪ Deteriorating friendships and relationships
Does Stress Always Harm You?
Stress by itself doesn’t always harm you. The American Psychological Association has noted: “Stress is to the human condition what tension is to the violin string: too little and the music is dull and raspy; too much and the music is shrill or the string snaps. Stress can be the kiss of death or the spice of life. The issue, really, is how to manage it.”
How to Manage Stress
The causes of stress can be real or imagined. In today’s competitive world, stress is a fact that everyone has to face whether at home or at the workplace. The question isn’t whether you will ever get stressed, but how can you cope with it when you do.
Ways to cope with stress
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that: “Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins — chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers — and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.” Exercise will also decrease your fatigue, enhancing your overall concentration and alertness. Aerobic exercise has even been shown to reduce tension, elevate your mood, and heighten your self-esteem.
2. Form a strong support group
Forming a strong support group will improve your ability to cope with stressful situations. Forging strong bonds and friendships will help you to get through today’s tough times and help you to cope with isolation and stress. Knowing that you have friends that are always there to watch your back will give you emotional support and enhance your self-esteem.
3. Avoid too much Caffeine
High levels of caffeine may relieve your stress temporarily but it can have overall negative effects on your health leading to an increase in your stress levels. Too much caffeine can cause anxiety, nervousness, headaches, jitteriness, and of course loss of sleep.
4. Take a break
If your daily routine at work is causing you stress then take-a break. Taking a break can refresh your mind and prevent you from becoming exhausted. Sometimes taking a break will even help you to come up with a magical solution to the problem you were facing. Just a short walk, even 5 minutes can work wonders.
5. Get Enough Sleep
Most people need 7-9 hours’ sleep to function properly. If you don’t get enough sleep then you will be more tired and irritable the next day. And you will end up stressing other people out. Regular sleep can improve your mood, memory function, concentration, and sharpen your judgement.
6. Spend time with your pet
Having a pet may reduce your anxiety and improve your mood by making you happier. Pets can reduce loneliness, depression and stress. Pets can provide valuable companionship for older ones who have lost a mate. Having a pet reduces anxiety by keeping you active.
7. Carve out some hobby time
Engage in your favorite activities like gardening, reading, listening to music, etc. These activates will bring you pleasure and joy and will reduce your stress and also lower your heart rate. Group activities will improve and promote good relationships with others. Hobbies will give us an outlet to do something that we love to do.
8. Take a Vacation
Getting away from your hectic routine will reset your stress tolerance level by changing your emotional and mental outlook. Studies have shown that vacations really do work because they remove you from your daily stressful activities and work.