When habitual conditions change, the psyche goes out of balance. You experience stress, which is a normal adaptive response to a change in your familiar environment. Thanks to stress, the body mobilizes, and you can make decisions and act more energetically, as well as acquire new skills and thus develop. Positive stress, due to which the “turbo mode” is activated, is called eustress. The body’s resources are enhanced and the person adapts to the factor that caused stress. When it is not possible to get used to the changes for a long time, the body is depleted, and distress arises – the very condition that you want to avoid.
It is impossible to get rid of stress – it is he who largely becomes the reason for the development and improvement of the quality of life. How not to become a hostage of emotions when dealing with other types of stress?
Types of stress
As we remember, there is a difference between positive stress (eustress) and negative stress (distress). The first affects the quality of life and causes positive emotions, the second generates anxiety, and fear of the future reduces motivation and productivity, and becomes a source of self-doubt and self-doubt.
Stress is further divided into mild and severe, acute and chronic.
Acute stress occurs as a reaction to an unexpected threat. In such a case, there are two ways to act: “fight or flight”, that is, to defend or save yourself. Any of the options can be experienced as a painful condition, and a person needs time to restore physical strength and psychological state.
Chronic stress differs from acute stress in that it occurs over a long period. A person cannot quickly respond or “get out” of the situation. An example of chronic stress can be a protracted conflict with a work colleague, the need to care for a seriously ill family member, or a high workload without the opportunity to rest and recuperate.
Signs of Stress
Stress causes several symptoms that are important to be aware of and pay attention to your condition in time, take care of yourself, and choose the appropriate way to cope with stress.
Regardless of the cause, the body responds to stress by stimulating the nervous system and releasing the hormone adrenaline. So he prepares for action in response to danger and mobilizes forces. Stress is characterized by different physiological manifestations:
- An increase in blood pressure,
- Muscle tension,
- Dry mouth
- Trembling voice,
- Difficulty swallowing reflex
- Tremors in hands and feet
- Change in appetite
- Weakening of the immune system,
- Digestive problems,
- Sleep disturbance.
Psychological manifestations include restlessness, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, excitement, constant fatigue, and fear of a possible event or experience of what happened. If we are talking about eustress, then the feelings that arise in this case are pleasant excitement, excitement, and joy.
Recognizing and Managing Stress
It is impossible to eliminate stress, but you can build your life in such a way as to succumb to its influence less. What will help? General recommendations boil down to the following points:
- Sleep quality. 8-9 hours a day, it is desirable to fall asleep and wake up at the same time. To sleep better, air the bedroom before going to bed, and do not use gadgets for an hour or two before going to bed.
- Nutrition quality. Fast food, food on the go, and coffee instead of lunch happen to each of us. It is important that these are rare exceptions, and that the diet is thoughtful and healthy.
- Information filter. Reduce the time for reading the news feed or give it up altogether – the most important news will reach you anyway. Set up the app and chat notifications to only get the information that matters. Set aside some time on social media and try not to go there every time you feel bored or anxious. Boring? Anxious? See the next paragraph.
- Exercise stress. Any regular exercise, half an hour of dancing with a choreographer on Youtube, or jogging stimulates the production of neurotransmitters – the very substances that are called “happiness hormones”. Sport keeps you in good physical shape, and increases endurance and general mood.
- Planning. Chaos in work tasks and personal life can be a source of stress. Scheduling your time, feeling in control, and taking time to rest help reduce the impact of stress and be more resilient.
- Environment. Avoid communicating with those who are dissatisfied with life, are the victim of a situation or relationship, constantly complain about others, but do not change anything themselves. Strengthen relationships with those whom you consider independent, optimistic, able to set goals and achieve them, enjoy life, and be grateful.
- Relaxation. Aromatherapy, meditation, massage, yoga, a weekend without gadgets in the country – anything that will help you slow down and rejuvenate.
Stress management techniques
When a stressful situation arises, it is important to know a couple of techniques that will help you cope with it. You can do this through the body, detachment, and work with beliefs.
The first task in stress is to return to your usual state or get as close as possible to it, which will allow you to analyze the situation and think about further actions. Start with breathing.
- Square breathing technique. Take a comfortable position, close your eyes, and imagine a square. Mentally put a dot in the lower left corner and inhale, counting to four. While inhaling, mentally move to the upper left corner and hold your breath for four counts. In the upper right corner, exhale for 1,2,3,4, and in the lower right, hold your breath again for four. Repeat this several times, each time increasing the count to five, six, seven … Breathing normalizes.
- Reset voltage. Sitting comfortably, take a deep breath, and visualize the tension you feel in your body, like an outer garment (such as a coat). Exhaling, throw off your “coat”, dropping your shoulders sharply. Repeat several times until you feel relaxed in your body.
Emotion Regulation Techniques
The idea is to mentally step back from the stressful situation. This will not solve the problem, but it will help reduce the level of tension and strong feelings.
- Close your eyes and imagine your life as a line. Indicate on it the event that caused stress, and rate the level of stress that has arisen from 1 to 10 points. For example, you rate dismissal at 9 points. Mentally move along the line of life, increasing the segment by a year, two, five, ten. Looking back at each point at a stressful event, assess the potential level of stress. Most likely, in the future, it will decrease, and you will see that the discomfort will eventually cease to be so intense.
Working with Beliefs
Sometimes one belief is enough to trigger a stream of negative thoughts, self-criticism, and anxiety about the future. Your task is to become aware of such triggers and be able to neutralize them or even replace them with others which will give you more opportunities and resilience. Sometimes it is easier to do this with the help of a psychologist.
You can also get Helping Someone with Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Despite the effectiveness of these exercises, it is important to focus on prevention. Make it a habit to regularly take care of your mental state, raise awareness, and maintain a sense of control over your life so that you have enough internal resources to cope with stress.
1. How long does it take to manage stress effectively?
Managing stress effectively is a continuous process that requires time, practice, and personalization. The duration can vary from person to person, as everyone’s circumstances and coping mechanisms differ. It’s important to be patient and persistent in implementing stress management techniques, allowing yourself the necessary time to find what works best for you.
2. Are there any natural remedies for stress relief?
Yes, there are several natural remedies that can help alleviate stress. Some popular options include engaging in regular physical exercise, practicing mindfulness and meditation, utilizing aromatherapy with essential oils, trying herbal supplements like chamomile or lavender, and incorporating stress-reducing foods into your diet, such as green leafy vegetables and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Can stress impact physical health?
Absolutely. Prolonged or chronic stress can have a significant impact on physical health. It can weaken the immune system, increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, disrupt sleep patterns, contribute to digestive issues, and even affect hormonal balance. Taking steps to manage stress effectively is crucial for maintaining both mental and physical well-being.
4. Is stress always a bad thing?
While chronic or excessive stress can have negative consequences, it’s important to note that stress itself is not inherently bad. In fact, in certain situations, stress can serve as a motivating force, helping individuals perform better and meet deadlines. The key lies in finding a balance and ensuring that stress levels remain manageable and within a healthy range.
5. What are some long-term effects of chronic stress?
Chronic stress can lead to a range of long-term effects on both physical and mental health. These may include an increased risk of developing anxiety disorders, depression, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal problems, weakened immune system, sleep disorders, and difficulties with memory and concentration. Seeking effective stress management strategies is crucial to minimize these potential long-term consequences.