Stress is often used in everyday conversations that it has become part of the vernacular in daily life. The normalization of the concept, unfortunately, does not always come with a comprehensive knowledge of this phenomenon and how to manage it. The goal in this article, therefore is to give you a better understanding of stress, how it affects you, and how to manage it.
What is stress?
Stress is a natural response of your body to changes in what has become routine in your life. These changes trigger this response as there can be varying levels of mental or physical pressure. Something to remember, however, is that despite the automatic association of stress to a negative emotion, not all stress is necessarily bad.
Stress can also be triggered by positive events or changes to your environment, everyday life, or routine, as it also causes a surge of emotions in reaction to the new situation. To differentiate, the positive type of stress is called Eustress, while the negative type is called Distress, which, for the purposes of the discussion, will be the focus of the information below.
People can experience distress in their own way to different degrees, even when presented with similar stimuli. The natural reaction or response can thus vary from person to person, depending on different factors such as their personal circumstances, social factors, or past experiences. It is this reaction that allows you to be able to adapt to the changes in your life.
How the body and mind react to stress
As mentioned above, stress is the body’s natural response to a drastic change in your life. When you are exposed to a constant stimulus of stressors without any breaks, stress is meant to keep you alert and prepared to either mentally or physically react should the situation call for it.
This natural state, however, is meant to be used in emergency situations, as it makes your body and mind operate in a more hyper aware state to help us get to a safer environment or situation. As such, if you are in this state in a prolonged period of time without any breaks, it becomes detrimental to the point where you can feel physical pain, or constant high levels of anxiety and panic.
While it might be difficult to control the actual situations that cause you stress, review and familiarize yourself with what causes your stress. Having a better understanding of these can help you take the necessary precautions before it gets to a point where it causes you overwhelming stress.
The first step is accepting that there are things you won’t be able to control, but that you do have some level of control of how you manage yourself in these situations. Once you start familiarizing yourself with your stressors, you’ll have a better idea of how you can prepare for them, how much you can endure before you may need to find a way to remove yourself from the source of your distress. Having this mental preparation thus allows you to better manage your way around your reactions and tendencies instead of being overwhelmed.
Other than managing and preparation though, another thing you can do is keep your body and mind active and healthy by staying productive. You can take care of your physical health by eating healthy and exercising, and your mental fortitude by keeping yourself occupied with activities and hobbies that induce more positive emotions. Doing these will help you increase your mental fortitude that allows you to prepare to manage your stressors as well.
Help is here
Remember that you don’t have to deal with your stressors alone. You have a great support system in your family, friends, and professionals that can help you better understand and work through your stressors and how you respond to them. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends and family and help them understand your situation. This is important because they can help you in your mental preparations, or even help remove you from any situation that may become overwhelming.
Lastly, but just as importantly, if you have the opportunity, reach out to get professional support as well. There are clinicians, psychologists, therapists, and more mental health practitioners with the training to help people better understand their factors that have an effect on their mental processes. In doing so, these professionals will work with you on how to develop habits that allow you to better handle your stressors and triggers, and thus integrate these practices into their habits to optimally function in daily life.
Are you overwhelmed, and feeling unable to cope with stress in your life? Schedule a free 15-minute consultation with a mental health professional to learn more about the possible steps you can take to managing stress.