Sometimes stress can be good for you, especially when it gives you the motivation to complete a task.
Learning to adopt strategies to successfully deal with stress provides a feeling of satisfaction and the belief that you can handle challenging situations when and should they arise.
A certain amount of stress is necessary for an organism to thrive.
When faced with stressful situations, your body responds with a fight or flight response. While this response is helpful for an animal that might become a predator’s meal, it has limited use in our modern lives.
A great analogy for this is to think of your Central Nervous System in relation to driving a car. When you put your foot on the gas you are accelerating the sympathetic branch (S) and increasing your stress.
When you put your foot on the brake, you activate the parasympathetic branch (PS) and slow down or stop which allows the body to enter into rest and digest.
If your stress becomes chronic, is could cause serious health problems.
So how can you cut down on your stress and take your foot off the gas?
While many of life circumstances might be beyond your control, you do have some choices on how you approach stressful situations.
Those who have the most success at controlling stress focus on taking charge of situations and seeking solutions. If you tend to avoid challenges and wait until they only get worse, you’re compounding your stress instead of reducing it.
Choose how you perceive stressful circumstances
What you think about a circumstance has the most effect on you and your future in dealing with the situation. Will you be a victim, and feel worse, or will you take action to do what you can to make it better?
Relax and defuse your body’s stress response
It’s difficult to exercise direct control over many aspects of your physical stress response. Just try to will your heart rate and blood pressure to a lower level!
However, you do have a lot of control over your breathing, both the rate and the depth.
Sitting in a quiet place and taking slow, deep breaths can perform miracles
Take a slow, deep breath, hold it for four to five seconds, and then release it slowly, and pause for four to five seconds before taking another breath again.
Mindfulness is all the rage today, but it has been around for thousands of years. All it really entails is totally focusing on the task at hand. If you’re folding laundry, you should only be thinking about folding laundry, not thinking about your spouse, work, bills, or anything else.
It’s essentially impossible to be stressed in the present moment. In reality, when you’re stressed, you’re either stressing about the past or future. You’re either getting upset about something that’s over or worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet.
Get some exercise
A fight or flight response dumps a lot of chemicals into your body that get everything revved up. Burn them off with a healthy dose of exercise.
There’s no reason to overdo it, but moving your body around in a vigorous fashion will make you feel a lot better.
Take good care of yourself
Most of us tend to marginalize the importance of a healthy diet and adequate sleep. This is a HUGE mistake. Your body needs nutritious foods to have a clean energy source. It also needs the proper rest to destress and heal from the rigors of the day.
Find some stress-free activities than you can enjoy regularly. Maybe golf is your thing. Maybe volunteering makes you feel better. Find a new hobby that engages your mind, like chess or learning the guitar.
It is much easier to get your stress level under control when it first starts to rise. When your stress is reaching maximum levels, it’s almost too late at that point to regain control.
Pay attention to your body and mind.
When you first start becoming stressed, take the appropriate steps to bring it down.
Take the necessary steps NOW to get your stress levels as low as reasonably possible. You never know what curve-balls life will throw your way and one of them has the potential to throw you off your center and if you aren’t prepared could lead to serious health consequences.
One of the ways we do this is by tracking our Heart Rate Variability (HRV) on a daily basis. Every day we know if we are starting the day in PS or S – we learn about how we individually handle life’s stressors from previous days and how we need to adjust our actions going forward.
Over time we have learned what adds stress to our body and also how we can reduce the effects of it so it doesn’t lead to illness or worse – hospitalization.
Stress can be very damaging, but it doesn’t have to be, and you do have a choice in how you manage life’s stressors.
When managed the quality of your life will improve and you’ll be happier. And so will your love ones around you!
If you want to learn more about how you can manage your stress, please contact us for a complimentary 30 minute discovery call!
To your health and wellness,