Deal With Stress

How To Manage Stress Effectively

Young Woman Thinking --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisThroughout the lifespan of stress management research, experts have argued about the exact definition of the word stress. There are many opposing viewpoints, and like many words in our language, the conflict lies in the way the word is commonly used in popular culture. When most people hear the word stress, their muscles tense and they expound on feelings produced by situations like time restraints, emotional pressures and the responsibilities of the daily grind. To the man on the street, the word stress is associated with negative or, at the very least, uncomfortable feelings.

Medically speaking, stress is anything that makes your body work harder. For example, your doctor might administer what is referred to as a “stress test” to gauge how your heart is working. The usual form of this procedure is to gradually increase the amount of strenuous physical activity you’re performing until you’ve reached your limit. Theoretically, that limit will reveal a lot about the condition your body is in.

So technically, stress doesn’t have to be the monster we make it out to be. There are good kinds of stress too. It can be a creative energy, like an adrenaline rush for artists, or even writers in a hurry to make their deadline. Basically, stress is responsible for the internal fight-or-flight mechanism that alerts you to danger and could even save your life. However, researchers say not having to hunt our own food or fight for survival anymore has dulled our more feral instincts and we typically aren’t in enough control to use fight-or-flight as nature intended. A lot of people just panic.

The situation doesn’t have to be life threatening to initiate a fight-or-flight response. Studies say we tend to get a small dose of it anytime we are startled or interrupted. When we are so stimulated, that it becomes an everyday part of our routine, we develop what is called General Adaptation Syndrome. Think of the syndrome like a callus. It’s your body’s way of coping with constant stress and allowing you to function in spite of it.

No matter how adept you become at handling whatever stresses you, your body will eventually rebel. Signs of exposure to prolonged stressors can creep up in unexpected ways such a chronic headaches, muscle pain, insomnia, weight loss and a variety of digestive issues. You can only take so much. Sometimes what you think you can deal with and what you can actually handle are not the same. Pay attention to your body because it will let you know, even when your brain isn’t listening.

There are all kinds of ways to manage stress, and different methods work for different people. Some like to soak in a hot bath at the end of the day while others would rather sweat it off at the gym. Studies have shown that certain scents such as lavender trigger a calming effect for most people. It is commonly used in infant-care products for that reason.

As wide and varied as the things that stress us are the things that soothe us and perhaps even more so, the ways in which we perceive stress. The circumstances which trigger feelings of anxiety in one person may seem pleasant or at least benign to another. The key is to take a minute to evaluate the way you respond to the stimuli and adjust the way you thing and feel about it. Maybe if seeing a spider usually causes you to jump up and down, next time you see one try taking slow, deep breaths. Rather than perceiving the spider as something that might bite you, practice thinking of it as something you can simply step on.

Author Bio: Kelly Hunter operates and writes about Stress Management.

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