What is stress? At its most simple definition, stress is how we respond to life’s demands.
Our prehistoric ancestors experienced stress from life threatening situations like a nearby predator, or lack of food or shelter.
Today, most of us aren’t stuck in a snowstorm or running away from bears. Yet, modern humans still experience stress, often at extreme levels.
Financial worries, illness, loss of a loved one or divorce are some of the major stressors that affect health.
These stresses may require an aggressive plan to manage. However, it’s important to remember that not all stress is bad.
A little stress can motivate you towards meeting a goal, like a deadline at work or school. Taking an exam that will expand your career can cause stress.
In these cases, the changes that take place with stress (increased heartbeat, respiration, and corticosteroid production) serve an important role.
They improve performance, boost energy, and drive you to meet your objective. In this respect, some stress actually enhances your health and self-esteem.
Unfortunately, many of us deal with chronic stress, and the implications can be serious.
Today’s “go a mile a minute” lifestyle can drive even the healthiest of people into a stress frenzy.
Chronic stress is toxic to our bodies. It depresses immune response, wipes out the adrenal glands, and can lead to problems like alcoholism, substance abuse, anxiety, or depression.
You have control over how you respond to stress. Remember, stress is really how you react to potential stressors.
Many people manage daily stress fine. For other people, daily stress creates a toxic brew of stress chemicals that drain health and energy.
What makes some people thrive in stressful situations while others wilt away? We all interpret stress differently.
For some people, driving in traffic is a major stressor. For others, it’s just a life routine.
Some people sail through a stressful week at work, and come out accomplished. Other people end up frazzled or feel the need to self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs.
Research suggests your response to stress is somewhat learned.
Ask yourself these questions and make an honest assessment of how you deal with your stress. It’s easy to be on autopilot, and not pay attention to how you’re reacting to stress.
People who worry constantly create their own stress by imagining every worse case scenario.
They are on constant alert for threats that may never come calling. They may worry over global unrest, health, family members, or situations they have no control over.
Over time, this mental stress can affect sleep and daily functioning, and can increase fears, depression, and anxiety.
The world can be a stressful and scary place but changing your focus can make a big difference.
Don’t allow everyday stress to take over your life. If you’re worrying a lot, step back for a minute.
Re-evaluate your thoughts after you’ve had time to clear your mind. After a short break, you may find a new solution to something you thought was insurmountable.
For instance, fatigue and overwork can trigger an overactive stress response. If this sounds like you, try to schedule in more breaks and rejuvenating rest.
Aromatherapy oils like lavender are amazing to help you relax on a stressful day.
Remember, each day is a new beginning to manage your stress better. A huge bonus is you will begin to feel better right away!
Your whole life will change when you learn to deal with stress in a healthy way.