Managing Stress

FEELING STRESSED OUT?

Stress, a feeling known to every human on this planet. When you’re overwhelmed, unsure,  feeling as if everything is out of your control, your routine is no longer in existence, or unusual circumstances arise (such as a pandemic), it’s natural for your body to experience the feeling of stress. Stress is a natural human response, however, living in a state of chronic stress is new to the human species. 

What is Stress?

Stress is a natural reaction that is built into our system when our ancient ancestors needed a way to protect themselves from predators and other threats of survival.  When you are faced with something dangerous, your body will flood with hormones that elevate your heart rate, increase blood pressure and boost your energy all preparing you to deal with the problem. For our ancestors the problem was usually some situation threatening their survival, but these days we can feel stress getting ready to do a presentation at work, meeting deadlines, figuring out childcare in the middle of a pandemic or health care for your elderly parent. Stress has moved away from survival, but our body still treats it like it is. Overtime, this exhausts our internal systems, decreases our immune system and dis-ease is created. 

Signs or symptoms of stress 

Body aches or pains

Migraines or headaches 

Muscle tension 

Jaw clenching/TMJ

Insomnia 

Irritability

Inflammatory responses 

Anxiety

Not all stress is created equal

Stress is extremely subjective. Two people do not experience stress the same. Something that feels stressful for one person does not feel stressful for another.  Because of this, a comprehensive definition of stress is difficult to create. 

According to American Psychological Association, more than three-quarters of adults report physical or emotional symptoms of stress, such as headache, feeling tired or changes in sleeping habits and nearly half of adults say they have laid awake at night because of stress in the prior month. So if you ever feel alone in your stress know that this is one of the major ailments hitting most Americans.

Types of Stress

According to the American Institute of Stress, there are four types of stress we experience:

Acute Stress-Fight, flight, or freeze.  The body prepares to defend itself.  The heart rate increases, appetite is gone, anxiety about how to respond ensues. It takes about 90 minutes for the metabolism to return to normal when the response is over. Normally this survival response is useful when there is an immediate danger yet it can be debilitating for instance when an  individual’s past traumas and their triggers cause this acute stress response to happen repeatedly creating a constant overall feeling of anxiety and dis-ease.

Chronic Stress-The cost of daily living: bills, kids, jobs, or prolonged acute stress responses…This is the stress we tend to ignore or push down in order to get through each day.  Left uncontrolled this type of stress affects your health- your body and your immune system. First responders and individuals who have suffered traumas commonly experience chronic stress due to the lack of sleep, PTSD symptoms, and a combination of external and internal uncertainties. This type of stress causes inflammation (hotlink)  in the body. 

Eustress (aka “good” stress)-Stress in daily life that has positive connotations such as: Marriage, Promotion, Baby, Winning Money, New Friends, Graduation

Distress (aka “bad” stress) -Stress in daily life that has negative connotations such as: Divorce, Punishment, Injury, Negative feelings, Financial Problems, Work Difficulties

Stress Prevention

Stress is something innate to the human experience.  You will never fully get rid of stress and don’t need to because stress is a way we grow and it is there to signal us when there is danger and we need to respond. However, we do want to learn how to manage stress so it doesn’t become chronic. It’s important to know the difference between positive and negative stressors so you stay balanced. Constant chronic distress can take a toll on your adrenals, endocrine system (hormones) and negatively affects your immune system so it’s important to find balance.  You can work with stressors in harmony with overall wellness.

Find Balance 

A balanced life includes time and space for everything that you feel called to be a part of in your life such as: healthy body, work, family, friends, adventure and everything in between.  When we are out of balance, stress is heightened. Therefore, managing stress is all about finding balance. It’s a creative process.  The word “manage” can bring in a sense of needing to control stress, which is completely opposite of what needs to happen. Control often creates more stress. Part of learning about stress management is learning about how to find balance in your inner world first then your outer. Meaning, bring awareness to what your mind is doing and where your body is living. Mindfulness practices are great to begin working with your thoughts to find balance.

Ways to Relieve or Prevent Stress

Meditation

Massage

Acupuncture

Listen to music 

MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) – https://palousemindfulness.com/

Moving your body-gentle movement like walking or stretching for 10 minutes

Breathwork

Journaling

Gratitude Practice

Take time to organize yourself

Talking to a therapist – https://www.swc.edu/venue/tierra-nueva-counseling-center/

Go into nature or change your environment 

Take a moment to connect to your breath-This gets you out of your head where the stressful thoughts live, and drops you down to your body.

Daily Practices 

Commit to a daily walk starting with at least 10 minutes

Commit to daily journaling (stream of consciousness before bed to get what’s in your head out on paper or morning practice focusing on “what are you grateful for?”) If you are working on body transformation consider a good journal.

Breath Practice: (THIS CAN BE A GUIDED BREATH MEDITATION) Video coming soon…

How Sol Wellness Can Help

If you feel like your stress is too much to handle and need some professional help, start with making an appointment with a practitioner at Sol Wellness. All of the services we provide aim to alleviate stress and empower you to take back control of your mind, body and spirit.

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