Stress and anxiety happen to most of us from time to time, whether it’s through difficult relationships at home or in the workplace, or worries about friends or loved ones. Managing stress is important to live a healthy life and be happy. While you may not be able to eliminate every stressor in your life, you can manage your feelings of helplessness and overwhelm through relaxation techniques and understanding the causes of stress and your stress triggers.
Stress comes from your thoughts.
What Is Stress?
Stress can have many causes but it’s characterized by nervousness and a reaction both mentally and physically. This feeling of tension can come from emotions, both happy emotions and those of frustration, fear, and anger. Yes, there can be happy stressors, too! For example, think of the “butterflies in the stomach” feeling before a big date or a fun party.
However, most people commonly associate stress with unpleasant emotions, and long-term feelings of stress can indeed take an emotional and physical toll on your mind and body.
Be proactive about your stress before you require medication.
The Effects of Long-Term Stress on the Nervous System
Chronic stress and anxiety cause your body to release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol that can lead to high blood pressure and heart problems, exacerbate chronic health conditions and inflammation in your body, cause migraine headaches, and wear down your immune system, causing you to be sick more often and recover more slowly.
Plus, the physical effects of stress, including accumulation of belly fat, clogged arteries, and high blood pressure, in turn, have negative effects on the brain, making you feel sluggish and causing a stress response in your body. Therefore, stress becomes circular, harming your body, which in turn damages your brain and cognitive functions. The nervous system responds to stress triggers and places your body in a state of “fight or flight” when you think that there is a threat. This threat may be real or imagined.
Knowing your stress triggers can help you put your best face forward.
Identifying Stress Triggers
While some stress triggers are merely universal, such as major life changes including moving, getting married or divorced, having a child, or losing a loved one. Other stress triggers may be more personalized to each person. For example, some people may become visibly upset if someone else is angry or yelling, while other people can take the emotions of others in stride. Or, some people may thrive in high-stress work environments but become stressed out when there isn’t much to do. While other people become nervous when expectations are high.
So, stress triggers for each person may be very different, and understanding your own stress triggers can help you understand how to deal with your unique triggers and your stress responses. Understanding this will Enable you to calm your mind, reduce your heart rate, and focus your mental energy on dealing appropriately with the stressful situation.
Control the Flight or Fight Response
Stress is characterized by a “fight or flight” response, wherein the heart rate elevates, breathing becomes shallow and rapid, and the mind races. In the workplace or personal situations, this physical response to a stress trigger can cause you to react with anger or fear. Therefore, controlling this physical, often subconscious response involves using different techniques to reduce the body’s stress response.
Some ways that people manage a stress response include:
- Deep breathing. Inhale, count to four, hold your breath for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, and hold the exhale for the count of four. Concentrating on this “boxed breathing” technique can help people focus the mind on a simple, repetitive activity while ensuring that you’re breathing deeply enough to get plenty of oxygen in your body
- Remove yourself from the situation. While some instances, such as “road rage” on the highway won’t allow you to quickly leave, there may be other times where you can choose to walk away. Even at work, there may be options to remove yourself from stressful encounters, whether with a customer or a manager. If you often feel stressed in the workplace, ask about options to walk away from angry customers or frustrating coworkers.
- Embrace a healthy lifestyle. Exercise, specifically at least 30 minutes of activity every day where your heart rate is elevated, is shown to be one of the best ways to decrease stress and improve your overall emotional state. Eating well, including a balanced diet of healthy, whole foods helps you feel better overall. If you drink alcohol, smoke, or use recreational drugs, you may also be causing undue stress to your body. These substances cloud your emotions and take a toll on your physical and mental health.
- Take up journaling. Sometimes, you can gain insight into your stressful situations by writing down your feelings. Other times, simply “getting it all out” can help you free your mind from stress.
- Meditation, such as using guided imagery, can help you calm your mind and focus your energy on relaxing your body from stress. Visualize a “happy place,” and close your eyes and mentally visit it, and you will feel those peaceful feelings for the rest of the day.
Unrealistic standards can cause stress.
Are You Feeling Overwhelmed?
In these situations, getting help to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses can guide you in the best way to approach stressful events. A personalized evaluation by a professional can help you identify the stress triggers in your life. Beyond this, the innovative approach from IntelliStress not only helps you discover your emotional stress triggers but also helps you control the emotions that underlie each stressful situation.
For example, some stress triggers may be based on fears, while others are based on anger. Understanding which emotions drive your stress can help you integrate stress management skills to help you become a more effective leader. You’ll learn how to keep calm and professional in any situation. When you discover the reasons that you feel overwhelmed and stressed, you can take steps to adapt your responses and tackle each situation with grace under pressure.
Let’s Get Started!
You don’t have to let stress overwhelm your life. Whether you’re seeking an individual evaluation of your life stresses and tools to help you naturally relax or you’re an HR Manager or team leader, IntelliStress can help. We can work with teams in the corporate world or people just like you to manage stress and lead a healthier and more productive lifestyle. Contact us today!