Stress - what is it anyway?
I am sure you have heard of the term ‘Stress’ used in one from or another, but do you know what it is exactly?
It is what we experience in our mind and body when the demands on us exceed the resources we have available, it can make you feel overwhelmed and exhausted.
The important thing to understand is that not all ‘Stress’ is bad, short-term stress can be good actually, gets you moving and motivates you to get things done. However too much ‘stress’ can become problematic and it is helpful to know how to manage it in your life.
Let’s look at what happens in our body when we start to experience a stress state, as we are confronted with a stressor, our body springs into action to protect us. This happens in a number of ways as follows:
- Your mind becomes more alert
- Your heart rate speeds up
- Your blood pressure rises
- Your breathing rate increases
- Your blood is diverted from your brain to your muscles
Well known as the ‘Fight or Flight’ response, when our mind detects a threat it springs into action to protect us utilising this response. The problem in our modern world is that usually it is a perceived threat that our mind is detecting, such as a stressor, like busy day or financial woes.
The emotional centre of our brain the ‘Amygdala’ lights up like a Christmas Tree and sends us into the ‘fight or flight’ response even when the threat is not real or something you need to fight against or run away from.
What is the answer to the stress of our modern world?
I believe the first step is in accepting that you are dealing with stress, for many of us, we either do not recognise that we are experiencing it or we choose to deny that it is happening.
Acceptance is going to do two things:
- Allow you to take the steps to make changes to reduce the stress in your daily life
- Acceptance in itself is going to give you a feeling of relief as to why you have been feeling the way you have and a knowingness that you are not alone, we all deal with it at one time or another.
Have you ever gone on holiday and then thought to yourself ‘WOW I feel so relaxed, I must of been really stressed’. It can take stepping out of your day-to-day to realise how much stress you are really experiencing.
Now, that you understand the different types of stress and not all stress is created equal. Let’s talk about what you can do to reduce chronic or long-term stress that is affecting your emotional and physical health.
5 Ways To Reduce Stress
- Controlled Breathing
Set your timer for 3 minutes and take controlled breaths – inhale through your nose for a count of 3 and exhale through your mouth for a count of 3. At the end of 3 minutes you will notice your stress has reduced and your mind and body will feel lighter and a sense of calm.
2. Active Coping Skills
Changing unhealthy behaviors in coping with stressors to behaviours that are going to reduce your stress both in the moment and have a long term effect on your mind and body. Such as reducing the reliance on food, alcohol, drugs as distraction tools and increasing your support network of friends and family, sometimes sharing your burdens can lighten them enough to reduce your symptoms.
Stress in our daily life can be overwhelming, writing out your thoughts and what is causing you to worry in your day can help to calm your mind and give you a deeper understanding of why you are feeling stressed.
Affirmations and Gratitude can help to bring you into the present moment and release the symptoms you are feeling around past actions or future responsibilities. Taking a few moments to look around to find 3 things you are grateful for, will allow you to embrace the present moment where you are safe and secure. Finding affirmations that allow you to ‘Believe in You’ also help to reduce any stress you are experiencing.
Tapping is a wonderful way to reduce your symptoms in a very effective way. Tapping is similar to acupuncture without the needles, using the meridians, to clear the flow of energy through your body. Using a setup statement you step into acceptance of what you are experiencing, which then allows you to let it go. You tap on 8 different points on your face and upper body which allows you to release the stress in your mind and body.
What do you think about Stress now, are you experiencing it in your life?
Comment below and share your thoughts on Stress and the coping strategies shared in this article.
Nicole Ivens is an experienced Professional Counsellor, Wellness Coach and EFT Practitioner.
Nicole helps women to reduce fear and anxiety and take back control of their life by kicking fear to the kerb and getting back in the driver’s seat of their life.