Stress often features as a necessity of life. Without stress responses, we and our offsprings could never muster the vigilance needed to get up in the morning. Start off to school to learn and develop. Work the necessary hours and look after our family’s needs. However, when stress becomes chronic or never-ending, it begins to have harmful effects on our physical and mental health. Consequently, our motivation and patience declines. Conflicts increases. Ruinous binge drinking, smoking or shopping often features. Our productivity and effectiveness suffers. Given these, how to manage stress in life warrants diligent attention.
Fight Or Flee
To continue with, the prime role of our brain is to help us survive. When it detects a threatening situation, it triggers a series of actions that start off the production of stress hormones. These hormones enable us to do either of two actions in the face of danger: fight or flee. They mobilise the energy to fight the threat or flee if the risk is too great.
Besides, a situation must contain at least one of four characteristics, to induce a stress response that could have long-term harmful effects. In plain, a biological stress response is produced when we are exposed to situations involving any of these characteristics. Novelty: The situation is new to us. Unpredictability: We find the situation unexpected or unpredictable. Threat to our ego: The situation is threatening to our ego. Sense of low control: We have the impression that we lack control over the situation. In the wake of, having the impression that you’re losing control over your marriage will produce stress hormones abundantly.
From Chronic Stress To Abdominal Obesity
Our hearts pounding, fists tightening, whitening, when our stress migrates from acute to chronic, when stress hormones demand major inputs of energy from our body, day-after-day, it becomes hard for it to mobilise the necessary energy required to meet a threatening situation. However, our body rises to this challenge by storing lipids and glucose around the abdomen since it can use them more quickly to produce energy.1 In line with, Dr. Elissa Epel of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, confirmed that people showing abdominal obesity react more to stress than people without abdominal obesity.
Stress Taking Away From Our Productivity
Further with, if our brain detects a threat in the environment, it will make us devote 100 percent of our attention to information relevant to the threat. Here, the relevant information is threatening information. In the presence of a threat, non-threatening information is irrelevant to the brain. Our brain always gives priority to and selects threatening information, to enable us survive perceived surrounding dangers. The sharp vigilance induced by stress, illuminates how we can remember some certain specific personal details; where we were, what we were wearing, when we learned of the events of September 11, 2001.
What is more, this tendency of our brain, to favour threatening information, to the exclusion of other important information, has far-reaching implications for our productivity. For instance, an employee waking up to his child sick with high fever, will experience great stress. His wife away, himself unable to stay home with the child because of an important administrative meeting, he is compelled to entrust the child to a neighbour he hardly knows. Showing up at the management committee meeting, he encodes only a tiny portion of the information provided to him since his brain is focused on a major threat, his child’s high fever and the risk of epileptic seizure. Every other information becomes less relevant, regardless of their importance. As a result, his effectiveness and productivity suffers.
All In View, Here Unfurls How To Manage Stress In Life, To Energise Our Well-being
1. Gain Over Relief By Deconstructing And Reconstructing A Stressful Situation
This helps us to get a better understanding of the factors leading our brain to detect a threat. Finding the origin of stressors, helps us to manage them. We manage each stress factor by finding solutions to reduce its impact on our threat detection.
To illustrate with, from a colleague stressing you at work, to you coming home, frequently mentioning it to your husband, stress continues to build up. The thought of her plagues you with sleeplessness at nights. That thought is your stressor, and you can deconstruct it by asking and answering certain pertinent questions. Why does Cheri stress me so much? Is she novel? No. Is she unpredictable? No. Does she threaten your ego? Yes. Does she make you feel you’ve got no control over the situation? Yes.
Further with, discovering that your stress arises from your perception that Cheri threatens your ego and gives you the feeling that you’ve got no control over the situation, uncovers the origin of your stressor. Your negative perception of Cheri, starts your brain detecting Cheri as a threat, and you produce stress hormones any time you are in contact with her.
Forward from, reconstruct the stressful situation. Devise plans to deal with the situation stressing you. The plans could feature as meeting with her to discuss your conflict and try to settle it, reminding yourself that all external judgements are about the propagator, not you, accepting her as she is, controlling your reactions, making sure your boss is aware of what you are accomplishing. Also, the plans may include making a list of activities to do to help you feel seen, valued and respected, lifting your competence and work ethics. Resilience is often viewed as the opposite of stress. The ability to have these plans, shores up our resilience.
Saddling with, having these plans for dealing with stressors, and reminding ourselves of them, haves our brain detecting less of a threat and producing lesser quantity of stress hormones. One more fact, our impression of having some control over the situation stimulates our brain to detect a lower threat level in the environment. So, having these plans starts us gaining on how to manage stress in life.
2. Hold It Together By Cultivating Good Social Support
We use social relationships to enjoy the good times in life and help each other during difficult times. When we are deprived of such networks, we often feel isolated. This feeling of isolation frequently reduces our mental and physical capacity.
Proceeding with, social support refers to our social network often providing three types of resources. Instrumental support involves material or financial help coming from others; informational support, assistance coming from others through information that can help us deal with difficult situations; emotional support, help in the form of care, listening, reassurance, emotional expression. One other, social support means social inclusion. Enjoying good social support in one or all of these three areas, indicates that we are generally well-integrated into society. We do not suffer from isolation. When we do not have social support systems, we tend to feel less-integrated and lonely. Of note with, good social support lifts our cardiovascular health.
Strengthening this, Dr. John T. Cacioppo of the University of Chicago discovered that when we enjoy a strong social network, and receive sufficient instrumental, informational and/or emotional support, we produce fewer stress hormones than those who are socially isolated.
3. Hose Down Stress With Altruism
Volunteering can help us to break isolation when social support features deficient. As well, it haves us feeling useful and a strong sense of well-being. Coupled with, it allows us to come into contact with others who share similar non-profit drives, thus creating another social network. Succinct with, helping others keeps us from ruminating on our problems, therefore diminishing our feelings of stress. Clear from, voluntary altruistic behaviour, acts of kindness, promotes our self-image, self-esteem and feelings of well-being. These factors that have positive effects on our stress response. Helping others cope primes us to negotiate our stress.2 In plain, altruism can help us throw over stress for relief accompanying ideas of how to manage stress in life.
4. Liven Up With A Pet Animal
Dr. J. S Odendaal of the Life Research Institute in Pretoria, South Africa, discovered that interacting with a dog decreases the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. This interaction involves admiring it, scratching its ears, and talking and playing gently with it. Again, the presence of a pet increases social interaction among us. Pets often provide conversation triggers; their looks, breeds or anything else about it. Beneficial effects on our stress response often arises from the enhanced social interaction stimulated by the presence of a dog or other pet. Following from, pets can help us gain ground for notions of how to manage stress in life.
5. Glow Away With Belly Breathing
This is not about sitting in the lotus position and going to great lengths to control how deeply or frequently we take a breath. Carrying more emphasis than, allow air to enter your body through your mouth or nose till your belly fills up, sticking out. Then, exhale slowly through pursed lips or nose. Here is why this type of breathing is effective in putting an end to our stress response. When we take in a lot of air, making our belly swell up, our diaphragm expands. As the expansion reaches a certain degree, it activates the parasympathetic response, part of the involuntary nervous system, which terminates the stress response. Oftentimes, a state of acute stress starts our breath uneven and our speech choppy. Remedy to, belly breathing ties in with notions of how to manage stress in life.
6. Tidy Out By Exercising And Ridding Yourself Of The Energy You’ve Mobilised
In times of stress, our body mobilises massive amounts of energy to flee or fight the threat. Since our brain takes for granted that the mobilised energy was expended either in fighting or fleeing, it gives the order to eat quickly to shore up our energy reserves. If the mobilised energy was not expended, it begins to weigh on us, bringing on a feeling of pressure that can lead to chronic stress. Again, all the extra fats and sugars build up in our abdomen.
Along with, Dr. Ulrike Rimmele of the University of Zurich in Switzerland demonstrated that exercising or playing sports regularly significantly decreases our stress response. We can benefit from the positive effects of exercise on our stress by engaging in a simple routine that permits us to move.
7. Treasure Up A Funny Movie
Dr. Lee Berk and his team at Loma Linda University in California, revealed that laughter reduces the production of stress hormones. So, make out some time to have a good hearty laugh amid everything.
Associated to, as part of the human way of life, laughter allows us to bond and get through difficult times. It is usually contagious, drawing others to laugh with us. When we laugh together, we tend to kick our guards and self-control out the window. Consequently, our sense of togetherness, bonding, and having social support improves. This support improves our well-being, resilience. Moreover, it strengthens our infrastructure and lowers stress.
8. Gear Up And Demolish The Word “Should” For “Could”
Every time we use the world “should” on ourselves, we put ourselves down to shame. “I should have known better.” “I should have gone left instead of right.” The statements underline the notion that we are not enough and need to be ashamed for this. On this, we trigger the stress response. Following on, negative emotions, memories of feeling similarly in the past, plague us. “Should-statements” contracts us. To feel powerless is to feel victimised by external circumstances.
Alternatively, we can switch to “could-statements” to hold ourselves accountable for our behaviour. Additionally, it helps us to cultivate the knowing that doing things differently may lead to different results. Here, we are acknowledging ourselves, not putting ourselves down. Using “could” instead of “should” starts us engaging the stress response only enough to motivate action, not induce inflammation, negative thinking, and the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. “Could-statements” changes our internal conversations, quieting the inner critic and empowering us.
9. Strike Up Power Poses Like A Superhero
Amy Cuddy, a Harvard scientist, determined that power posing for as long as 120 seconds lowers cortisol, a stress hormone, by approximately 25 percent, and boosts testosterone, a dominance hormone by 20 percent. On this, form the habit of of standing with feet apart, chest puffing out, arms spreading out or planted on the hips. Related to, plant hands on table, feet pointing to the other person, as you lean forward.3
10. Match Up And Convert Your Body Into A Personal Biofeedback System
Checking regularly with ourselves several times per day, for instance at 10 a. m., 2 p. m., and 4 p. m., helps us to notice stressful thoughts or body tension before they get out of control. Then, we can remind ourselves to stay calm and engage any of the afore-mentioned strategies, to maintain our sense of stability.
Away from victim mentality, away from worsening unhealthy habits, beyond emotional fatigue, beyond seeing threats where there are none, we stand, as we embrace the ideas behind how to manage stress in life. From there, we motivate ourselves, and start off to reclaim our personal power, and advance our cause at home, office and elsewhere.
1. This discovery was made by Dr. Mary Dallman of the University of California at San Diego. Dr. Dallman is a pioneer in the scientific study of the effects of stress on obesity. Through her studies, she showed a clear understanding of the mechanism through which chronic stress can lead to abdominal obesity. Now “retired,” she still devotes time to work with researchers specializing in stress science.
2. Charney DC (2004). Psychobiological mechanisms of resilience and vulnerability: Implications for successful adaptation to extreme stress. Am J Psychiatry 161: 195–216.
3. Carney, D. R., Cuddy, A. J. C., and Yap, A. J. “Power posing: Brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance.” Psychological Science, September 2010, 21(10): 1363–1368.
1. Sonia Lupen, “Well Stressed: Manage Stress Before It Turns Toxic” (Canada: John Wiley & Sons, 2012).
2. Eva Selhub, MD, “The Stress Management Handbook: A Practical Guide To Staying Calm, Keeping Cool, And Avoiding Blow-Ups” (Delaware: Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., 2019).