How effective are you at managing your stress?
For your health, well-being, and lifespan, it's super important that you learn how to manage your stress effectively. Stress wreaks havoc on your mind and body. And in our busy world, it's very likely that you're living with too much of it. To better understand how to effectively manage stress, it's helpful to understand what happens when you're feeling stressed.
There are two hormones that become activated in the body when you feel stress ~ adrenaline and cortisol. Both these hormones are produced in the adrenal glands and are released in response to stress or fear. They're both part of the fight-flight-freeze response system.
Adrenaline is the first hormone to be released as it gets our body ready for action. It's a very purposeful hormone, when we're in danger. It's played an important role in our survival as a species. Adrenaline is what kept humans safe from oncoming saber-tooth tigers, back in the caveman days. And today it still helps keep us safe, the difference is that today we have so much more to worry about than wild animals attacking us.
One important thing to understand is that the body doesn't know the difference between real fear or danger, and that which is perceived. Are you really in danger if you don't make it through the green light while driving to work? No. But because you want to make it through the light so you don't have to stop at the red light, your body responds to your anticipation as though it really is in danger. Thus, adrenaline kicks in.
When the body becomes flooded with adrenaline, our heart beats faster; speech and actions quicken; breathing becomes shallow and from the chest; the body begins to sweat; and it's difficult to think clearly.
Once this hormone has been released into the body, it doesn't last too long. It's not meant to as its purpose is to get our body moving quickly. When our body gets a jolt of adrenaline, it actually feels pretty good. We commonly refer to this as an 'adrenaline rush' and it can feel like a bit of a high. When it starts to come down, commonly referred to as a 'crash,' cortisol begins to rise. When this happens we usually start feeling bad, anxious and/or depressed. Cortisol isn't released as quickly as adrenaline, and it lasts much longer.
Cortisol contributes to anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, and increased blood pressure.
So remember every time you feel adrenalized, cortisol is right behind building up in the body. When adrenaline begins to fall, cortisol begins to rise. Therefore, if you're continuously in situations that cause you to become adrenalized, which most people are most of the day, it means your body is continuously producing and releasing both of these hormones. Consider how often in a day you're in stressful situations like, sitting in traffic; rushing to get to your next app't; dealing with your child's temper tantrum; deadlines at work; the list goes on and on. When your body is under continuous stress that's not being managed, you pay for it.
Symptoms of stress are:
High blood pressure
Difficulty remembering and concentrating
Inability to sleep well
It's necessary that we all learn to give ourselves time during the day to slow down and bring our body into a state of calm and ease.
Try implementing some of these proven ways to help manage your stress:
Relaxation practices such as meditation, deep breathing techniques, mindfulness, or yoga
Healthy eating habits and limiting sugar, caffeine, and alcohol
Journaling and/or talking to a close friend or counselor about your stressful situations
Reading or listening to calm music
Preparing your mind and body for sleep each night and ensuring you receive the sleep you require
Life is full of stressful situations that we often can't avoid. While we can't always choose what goes on around us, we can always choose how we respond. What's your favorite way to manage stress? Let me know in the comments below.
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Want to learn more ways to manage your stress effectively and live healthier and happier? Check out my new E-Course or join my Mentoring Program.