Stress is primarily a physical response. When stressed, the body thinks it is under attack and switches to “fight or flight” mode, releasing a complex mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine to prepare the body for physical action.
In this blog post I’ll dive into the different types of stress and how you can better manage your stress to live a healthier, happier life.
TYPES OF STRESS
ACUTE STRESS is a response triggered when we encounter a threat or danger situation. This leads to the release of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which causes distinct changes in the brain and the body.
CHRONIC STRESS occurs when we are experiencing stress on a regular, ongoing basis. It relates to the prolonged physical and psychological feelings of tension and pressure we may experience when we are finding the demands of our professional or personal life difficult to cope with.
SYMPTOMS OF STRESS
PHYSICAL symptoms may be the first signs we notice that we’re struggling with stress. Initial physical symptoms may include a rapid heartbeat, chest pain, a headache, feeling tense, shaky or on edge.
EMOTIONAL symptoms of stress include experiences a low mood, mood swings, feeling panicked or increasingly worried.
BEHAVIOR changes associated with stress include difficulty sleeping, over or under eating and becoming less tolerant and snappy with other people. Noticing the early warning signs of stress is very important as chronic stress can lead to longer term health problems.
The good news is stress is manageable and with the right tools, techniques and daily healthy habits you can minimize stress in your daily life and deal better with the effects of stress on your body and mind.
The first step towards better managing stress is to IDENTIFY YOUR TRIGGERS.
A trigger is anything that causes a stress response in the body, in other words, the release of stress hormones. For example, almost all of us will have experienced work-related stress of some kind.
Think about how you move throughout your day. Are there any situations, people and environments cause you to feel stress? Perhaps you can notice some patterns. Make a list of these triggers.
Once you have identified the sources of your stress, you can start to implement a STRESS MANAGEMENT PLAN. A stress management plan is simply a system or routine that incorporates actions that will allow you to control factors that contribute to stress and how you respond to stressful situations that are not anticipated.
Simple changes like planning out our day the night before or waking up 15 minutes earlier can make all the difference to our stress levels. Can you imagine how great it would feel to be early for appointments and feel calm and in control, instead of always running late?
TAKE TIME OUT
Taking time out during your work day and week is an important part of managing stress. If you work at a desk, go for a walk outside during lunchtime to clear your head. Be conscious of taking mini-breaks throughout the day. You can also find a quiet space for a couple of minutes to take some deep breaths. It will allow you to refocus.
If you find you are becoming overwhelmed by stress make time to connect with friends, family and loved ones. Spending time with the people we care about and having fun is important for stress relief and an overall sense of happiness.
In order to sustain LONG-TERM STRESS MANAGEMENT, commit to daily practices that will allow you to clear your mind, regain control, and adopt a positive, confident mindset. Changing patterns of behavior can feel challenging at first, but there are a few ways you can make it easier:
First, learn to BE MORE DECISIVE.
When you’re are stressed, it can be hard to make decisions. Feeling indecisive can increase stress levels. Have you noticed how much better you feel when you make a decision, even a difficult one? When you make a decision, your brain feels like you are in control and you feel less stressed.
The trick is to not sweat the small stuff and save your energy for those big life changing decisions and productive thoughts.
Second, SIMPLIFY WHAT YOU CAN.
Sometimes, less is more. Minimize stress in your life by eliminating things that don’t add benefit to your life. Start by decluttering your home or your desk at work.
Research has found that when an environment is cluttered it causes a distraction. This distraction restricts your ability to focus and limits your brain’s ability to process information.
Finally, make time to take care of our PHYSICAL HEALTH. Eat a balanced, healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get 8 hours of sleep per night.