As life becomes increasingly hectic, more people find themselves struggling to balance the demands of work, family, relationships and other commitments, becoming stressed out in the process.
Stress Vs. Stressors
So what exactly is stress and what causes it?
Stress is simply your body’s response to a perceived threat or pressure. When you sense danger- whether real or imagined- your body triggers a fight or flight response to prepare you to deal with the threat. This automatic response initiates the release of hormones including cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine which temporarily affect your nervous system. These hormones are the reason you get sweaty palms, shaky knees, rapid breathing and a pounding heart whenever you’re nervous or stressed.
Stressors, on the other hand, are those situations that cause stress and consequently trigger our stress response. Since we are all unique with different perceptions of the world, stressors tend to vary from one person to another. For instance, you might find a hectic schedule stressful while someone else finds it invigorating.
Some of the common stressors include:
- Busy schedules
- Personal relationships
- Family obligations
- Demanding jobs and workplaces
- Financial problems
Consequences Of Chronic Stress
Interestingly, stress can be good for you. In emergencies, for example, stress can imbue you with the strength needed to defend yourself. In other situations, it can actually help you stay alert, focused and energetic like when playing sports or giving a presentation.
However, beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and becomes detrimental to your health. You see, your nervous system can’t differentiate between physical and emotional threats so your body can react just as strongly to a stressful argument with your spouse as it would to a life threatening situation. The more frequently you get stressed, the more susceptible you are to serious health problems including stroke, depression, eating disorders, cardiovascular disease and low libido.
Effective Stress Management Techniques
Since the unpredictable nature of life makes it impossible to completely avoid and eliminate all stress, your focus should be on getting rid of unnecessary stressors and effectively managing the rest.
Here are some stress management techniques you can try out;
- Quick stress relievers. These techniques are great in helping you decompress quickly so you can react rationally to a stressful situation. They include breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, taking a walk or simply distracting yourself by taking a mental break.
- Stress relieving habits. Adopting healthy habits such as healthy eating, exercising, meditating and cultivating a strong social support system can increase your stress resilience.
- Eliminating stressors where possible. Sometimes the best solution is to explore ways of getting rid of stressors altogether e.g. letting go of a toxic relationship, switching jobs or hiring someone to help around the home.
Although we live in stressful times, we don’t have to become victims of stress. A few adjustments in our lives can greatly reduce our stress levels, making us happier in the long run.
Kevin Jones is a full time professional fitness expert. When he isn’t in the gym, he is offering practical research, fitness plans and nutritional tips to the world. Kevin regularly contributes to many fitness and health authority websites. With a passion for family, fun, and fitness, Kevin has found a way to manage and combine these three aspects in an effective and successful way. Connect with him online; LinkedIn - Twitter