Small amounts of stress are healthy, there are situations and problems in life that demand our attention and energy. Stress can be a powerful motivator to make life changes. We get into unhealthy ruts that compound problems until a breaking point, we must make a positive change or break under the weight of life’s challenges. Stress that lingers, or becomes overwhelming can have negative effects on all aspects of the person.
When continually stressed your body remains in a fight or flight state. Our fight or flight state operates out of the limbic region of the brain. The limbic region of the brain controls major functions of the body that operate with little or no thought. Our heart rate, blood pressure, digestive system and emotional state shifts based off of environmental strains and threats. When you stay in heightened stress your immune system slows making you more susceptible to illness. Your body stops normal processes that don't immediately aid in your survival, like digestion. The end result is poor nutrient intake, stomach pain and bowel issues, which leads to more stress and becomes an endless loop.
How to reduce your stress
- The easiest solution is to get out of the stressful activity or situation. This may mean a job change, relationship change or creating boundaries with friends and family.
- In many cases it isn't appropriate or possible to leave the stress event/activity. Identify the catalyst of the stress, thoroughly exam its origin, triggers and your current method of coping. Ask yourself these questions, How can I actively work on the source of my stress? Can I allocate some of my responsibilities to someone else? Can I seek guidance from someone that understand the source of my stress better? Can I create some boundaries that better meet my needs and still address the stressor? How am I currently taking care of myself before and after the stressful event? Are my coping methods making things better or worse?
- Acknowledge your stress, identify associated feelings, write them down or say them out loud. Doing this alone can reduce the magnitude of emotions you feel. The next step would be to share them with a friend, spouse or family member who is safe and supportive. We are genetically wired to be relational, just by sharing your pain, feeling heard and cared for, you can reduce your current level of stress.
- Cry. Tears contain cortisol, a stress hormone in the body. When you cry your release cortisol and feel less stress.
- Workout. Working out has been shown to be as effective as an antidepressant. When you workout your body releases endorphins that make you feel good. Sometimes progress in other areas of your life take time, working out can be a way to experience small goals and reinforce the ability to make positive changes in your life.
- Change your mindset. Sometimes our expectations and "rules of life" are harsh and unforgiving, by changing our mindset and giving room for growth, failure and grace we free ourselves to experience life at its fullest.
Try theses strategies today!
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About Me: I'm a Christian counselor in Vancouver, WA. I specialize in treating male teens and men's counseling. Please contact me with any questions about my blog, counseling or to set up an appointment.
All information and opinions shared on this blog are for educational purposes only. Please contact me or another mental health care provider for diagnosis and treatment.