Posted on August 20, 2018
What exactly is stress? It presents itself in slightly different ways between people, yet is a universal feeling we can all relate to. Have you ever caught yourself wondering what exactly stress is, what it does to our bodies and how to best manage it? We’re making it our mission to help answer those questions.
Stress was originally used to describe a phenomenon in physics in which is measures how much external force can be placed on an object before it either breaks or can return to its original shape and form. It was then adopted by psychologists to explain how people are also put under immense external forces which cause breakdown. Those external forces were then nicknamed “stressors” and so our modern idea of stress began.
Did you know that some levels of stress are beneficial? The stress hormones govern our “flight or fight” responses, quickening our heart rate and breathing and preparing our body to respond quickly in an emergency. When we are in danger or feel threatened these responses help us make fast and accurate decisions to help us survive. When stress starts to have negative effects is when this hormone response doesn’t return to neutral. If our body is in a constant state of stress our overall health will begin to deteriorate quickly. Chronic stress increases the risks for anxiety and depression as well as headaches, insomnia, and irritability. As stress continues it can weaken the immune system, causing you to not only be more susceptible to viral infections but also can lengthen the recovery time from these illnesses. All of which are not beneficial to our long term health. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle means being able to manage your stress response so that your body and mind can relax.
Stress management is all about relaxation, if your body can’t relax it won’t leave its “flight or fight” mode. Common forms of relaxation include meditation, tai chi, yoga or progressive muscle relaxation. These methods tend to be slower in pace and require being able to change your focus from daily life to focus on maintaining a regular breath and connecting with your body. More active forms of stress management can be walking, running or playing in a sports league. Whatever method of stress management you pick make sure it fits into your daily life, so that you enjoy participating and making time for it. Staying active and relaxed are key to not only helping your overall heath but also beating the symptoms that come with stress.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, try to shake that tension from your shoulders and know that stress doesn’t need to run your life. With a little extra time you too can beat stress.
(sources: The American Institute of Stress, Health line, Mayo Clinic)