I have, from the time I have known myself until now when I sit here writing this post, been terrible at managing stress. As if that weren’t bad enough on its own, I am equally terrible at identifying that am in fact, stressed. I can’t even lie, the last few weeks have been stressful, but I know I am handling it much better now that I did ten or even five years ago.
Nonetheless, it’s something I think I’ve gotten better at over the years. A lot of which has to do with my husband. His laid back attitude has done wonders for me over the last decade. High strung Shan was not cute. At all.
As far as adulting goes, stress is an inevitable part of life. Whether it’s acute (short-term) or chronic (long term), unless you’re a weed puffing hippie living off the grid and nothing bothers you, you’re bound to experience a stressful season at one point or another. Managing these stressful periods is critical to maintaining mental wellness and stability.
I know, I know. Somehow we’ve gotten to a place where perpetually stressful and busy lives while running our bodies into a wreck is classified as ‘being successful’ and is even encouraged. That’s awful! Don’t you think? I mean, of course, rewarding and competitive jobs tend to be stressful, but why are we chasing it to be the norm and even shaming others for not glorifying the rat race?
Ion’ like it. My husband has a highly stressful job, and believe me, I think I assess his stress levels more than he does. I watch him like a hawk, particularly because he absorbs all of mine and will absolutely internalise it all and keep it in. Sir, you will not run yourself into the ground for a pay check on my watch. You will rest, you will rejuvenate and then get back it.
What is Stress?
Stress is a natural feeling of not being able to cope with specific demands and events. However, stress can become a chronic condition if a person does not take steps to manage it.Medical News Today
Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of danger or threat. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or we imagine it—the body’s defences kick into “fight-or-flight” mode or the “stress response.”
The stress response is the body’s way of protecting us. When working properly, it helps us to stay focused, energetic, and alert. It’s what saves our lives in emergency situations by providing adrenaline to defend ourselves.
Effects of Stress
Stress invoke physical and mental manifestations. During Stress mode, the body releases chemicals and re-prioritises resources. This often looks headache, skin ailments from disruption of hormones, high blood pressure, and headaches, to name a few. Stress can also induce anxiety.
That said, keeping stress to a minimum and eliminating long term stress is crucial to a person’s overall health. It’s not all bad though. Acute stress help some people rise to challenges. In fact, some people find themselves to be more creative and/or productive ‘under pressure’.
But beyond a certain point, where it is allowed to become chronic, causes damage to your health, mood, productivity, relationships, and quality of life.
Causes of Stress
Stressors can be caused by almost anything and can be internal or external. They often look like or come from;
- Major life changes
- Work or school
- Financial problems
- Physical and mental exhaustion
- Family life (Death, Divorce, Job loss, etc)
- A lack of flexibility
- Internal Negativity
- Pursuit or expectation of perfectionism
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4 Tips for Managing Stress
1. Identify Your Stressors
While stress may look different in each person’s life, identifying what your most common stressors are can help you keep the effects down to a minimum by preventing or treating it quickly.
2. Respond to Symptoms
Untreated stress becomes chronic stress, which can have lasting effects. When stress becomes chronic, even if it is mental or psychological, it will begin to manifest physically. It’ll be in our nature to treat the symptoms themselves, but if you recognise the stimulant to be stress, respond in a timely manner.
3. Regularly Decompress
Burn out. That’s what we call it when we keep going mentally, long after our mind and body tells us we need a break. When the demands of our corporate gig, or being a stay at home mom with four kids all day, everyday push us to the brink.
People decompress in different ways. Some people watch sports, go hiking, read books, take vacations or play video games. If you’re prone to stress (or even if you don’t and just need creative boosts), identify ongoing exposure to stress in your life for example from a high stress job and schedule regular activities to help you eliminate a build up of stress before it can start to negatively affect your mind and body.
The saying goes, take a break before you’re forced to.
4. Practice Grateful Living to Manage Stress
If you are a regular reader of the blog, you know that I regularly advocate for practicing gratitude for everything. As an exercise or tool for managing stress is no different. Stress management doesn’t have to take the form of some grand activity. It can be little things done daily over time. For me, keeping things in perspective by remaining thankful is a big help. It keeps me from wigging all the way out all the time.
Activities You Can do to Relieve Stress
When you do find yourself feeling stressed, here are some things you can do to relieve the pressure.
- Exercise (Workout, hiking, running, etc.)
- Visit/Spend time with loved ones
- Breathing exercises
- Listend to music
Would you say your life is prone to acute or chronic stress? Share in the comments how you manage stress in your life.
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