Stress- What is it and how to manage it.
Stress is inevitable. We all experience it. While the scale of stress varies from one individual to the next, it is important to rationally acknowledge it and deal with it accordingly. This blog aims at simply breaking down the definition of stress and how to successfully manage it.
WHAT IS STRESS?Stress is the release of certain hormones to a reaction to a feeling, event or action in one’s life.
It’s the same hormones that trigger your bodies “fight or flight” response, being the sympathetic nervous system. In other words, it triggers an evolutionary survival mechanism that enables people to quickly act in a time of perceived danger. Unfortunately for us, it also acts when there is no real perceived danger, such as work pressure or a traffic jam.
Such stress hormones being released are hormones known as adrenaline and cortisol.
Common reactors to such stress responses include things like an increased heart rate and contracted, tight muscles.
However, stress doesn’t always produce a negative effect on our lives. It’s the very thing that also drives us to endeavour well in something or sharpens our concentration in an important moment.
Stress plays an important role in our lives. It’s the very thing that drives us to endeavour well in something or sharpens our concentration in an important moment.
While acknowledging that, there is a major difference in how this stress aids us in our everyday lives and how stress can become chronic and thus a real threat to our health.
As previously mentioned, it would be great if the human body could tell between an emotional threat and a real, perceived danger. In today’s society we have a lot of more smaller stressors in our lives than ever before, and with that, becomes vulnerability to chronic stress.
Chronic stress can be responsible for the increased risk in heart attacks and strokes, disruption or a weakened immune system and speeding up the aging process.
WAYS TO COMBAT STRESS:
Relaxation response: Dr Herbert Benson:
There are many techniques and approaches to countering stress. The relaxation response has been very well documented and cited by many doctors and professionals around the world. This concept, conceptualised by Dr Herbert Benson, involves a variety of relaxation techniques, such as deep abdominal breathing, yoga or visualisation.
Remember the fight or flight response, ie the sympathetic nervous system previously talked about in this article? That’s what is above techniques are working to calm down, basically acting as a reversed response.
Exercise is a great way to counter-act the physical and mental manifestations we get from the ‘fight or flight’ response, purely because it’s what biologically is meant to follow from the response. Further, it breaks down the energy and excess stress hormones in the body and alleviates the effects such as the elevated heart rate and muscle tension.
Friends, co-workers, relatives and spouses are examples of the network necessary to counter-act the longevity of emotion felt while under intense, chronic stress. The buffer theory of support states that social support is a great acquittance in alleviating the stressors of psychological adversity. In other words, go catch up with friends and family!
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