Understanding how we get stressed might help you find solutions to manage your stress levels.
As I mentioned before in previous posts stress is related to the sympathetic nervous system. It’s a natural response of the body and it is activated by stressors.
Stress can be physical, mental or emotional and it works as a survival mechanism that ultimately prepares the body for danger.
THE TWO FACES OF STRESS
There are two faces to stress. A positive and a negative one.
The positive side of stress
The positive is that it keeps us from being eaten by a bear. What do I mean by eaten by a bear?
If you are in danger (example: you’re being chased by a big hungry bear), your body activates the ’fight or flight’ response. Your sympathetic nervous systems is ON which enables the body to dilate your eyes, increase heart rate, activate your sweat glands, make your muscles ready to contract, and more. It also temporarily stops other processes like the digestive system, so you are able to run or fight for your life.
But this response also happens in other less extreme situations like physical activity, starting a new job or going on a first date. It’s a completely normal response to exciting events.
After the danger has passed and you survived being eaten by a bear or the physical activity is done, or the excitement of the first day of a new job is over; the sympathetic system turns off and the parasympathetic system activates for you to return to a relax mode.
This is a normal cycle of the nervous system. The problem comes when the sympathetic nervous system is overloaded by stress and it’s continuously active.
Overloaded by stress – The negative side of stress
The stressors don’t have to be a hungry bear coming at you, it can be anything as simple as a traffic jam, being late for work or a crying baby.
And it gets a bit more complicated than that because it’s not only the actual situations that can be stressful but also our perception of the pressure it has on us and in our life.
It is what we perceive as stressful.
This can lead to the sympathetic system to be constantly turned on and issues start to arise because our body is not meant to stay stressed all the time.
Issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, headaches, overeating that can lead to obesity, irritability, diabetes, depression and that’s just to name a few.
Stress management is a very important aspect of our lives that must be addressed.
There are many things we can do to manage our stress levels but here are a few you might want to start with:
Moving your body helps you release the tensions of life and can keep you healthy longer. You can try anything from simply walking for 20 minutes every day, or yoga, swimming, the gym. Anything you like. Just stay active!
The are many breathing techniques or meditations that can help you activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Dr. Andrew Weil uses de 4-7-8 technique and you can read more about it here
Make time to connect with others
Having a support system is key to managing stress. Something as simple talking about what stresses you can help relieve some of it and process things better.
Make time for you
Hobbies and ”you” time is important to decompress from stress. Pick up something new like painting, or an old hobby you used to enjoy and make time for it at least once a week.
Get lots of Zzz’s
Lack of sleep has a huge influence on our stress levels so be sure you get between 6 an 8 hours of sleep every day.
Organization is key
We all have 24 hours every day to do with it as we please. Be sure to organize your time to have a balanced life. Organization is freedom and if the busy Jeff Bezos (The founder of Amazon) can do it, so can we! Read more here
What do you do to manage your stress levels? Comment below and let me know what tricks you’ve got up your sleeve!
With much love,