In a society built on expectation, competition, and responsibility, it is only natural that stressors appear within an individual’s day to day life. While ideally, these stresses remain minimal and act as a healthy motivator, oftentimes, they spiral out of control and build up, providing opportunity for a multitude of emotional, psychological, physiological, and physical issues to arise. With the current pandemic and global issues, stressors continually pile on top of the worries we already have. However, by understanding what exactly is stress and what causes it, we can develop different ways to release stress and prevent its buildup before it becomes too much to manage.
What is Stress?
Stress itself is a slightly abstract concept as any definition of the word has been built off of our own personal feelings. Instead of having one concrete definition for the word, stress is identified and characterized by the response it invokes. The most common description of stress is that stress is the reaction the body has in response to changes in the environment, usually physical, mental, or emotional in nature. In general, stress is a normal and healthy occurrence that serves to help you adapt to the situation at hand.
There are two main types of stress:
- Lasts for a short period of time
- Usually caused by small or recent changes or events
- Eg. taking a test, opening a present, running from a pursuer, meeting a deadline
- Usually heightens performance and awareness to help resolve stressor
- Lasts for prolonged periods of time
- Usually caused by overhanging problems or continual exposure to smaller stressors for longer periods of time
- Eg. debt, relationship problems, a packed schedule with no rest
- Constant activation of stress response
- Becomes detrimental to health
Why does it matter?
It is extremely important to avoid burnout as it can take a large toll on your mental and physical well being. Chronic stress can severely impact your body in many negative ways, mainly the breakdown and malfunction of every major body system which can lead to a plethora of life threatening conditions. Irritability, depression, high blood pressure, bodily aches, and exhaustion are very common in addition to a weakened immune system and increased susceptibility to addiction. Being able to recognize and mitigate stress is crucial to a healthy lifestyle and a more fulfilling life. With the ongoing pandemic, it is even more important to manage stress and reduce the risk of health complications in order to safely overcome the situation.
How can you manage stress?
It may seem difficult at first to control the stress you feel in your life, but in reality there are many simple and effective ways to combat it. Not everyone will manage their stress the same way and there is not a single method that works for every person. It is up to you to try and see what works best for you. Here are some examples of ways to manage stress:
Take Care of Yourself
Eat Well – Eating regularly will not only balance your body systems to better respond to stress but can also make you feel better and provide you with more mood control.
Sleep Well – Proper sleep allows you to better cope with stress and allows the body to restore itself, leading to better concentration, higher energy levels, and smarter decision making.
Exercise Regularly – Exercise is a convenient outlet for stress release, can improve your mood, and keeps your body healthy. Pick an activity that you enjoy!
Organize Your Time and Know Your Schedule
By knowing about everything that needs to be done, you can reduce the amount of stress you experience by relieving the uncertainty of the stressors in your life as well as providing providing you control over your own affairs. This allows you to prioritize and create plans to finish every task. Discover what is bothering you and find ways to solve each one, whether it is talking to another person, writing in a journal, making a list of things to avoid, or creating a schedule etc.
Find a Hobby
Find something you enjoy and plan out a time to do it and just relax to take your mind off the stressors! There are so many different things you can try out and learn.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Accept and Adapt – Know that there are some things that are just completely out of your control and look on the bright side before tackling the stressor. Be willing to compromise but also know when to draw the line – don’t take on more than you can handle and share the burden if needed.
Bonnie is a registered nurse currently working at a local hospital. As a nurse she is under a lot of stress every single day to care for others and helps share the stress of those families and individuals in need. When asked about hardships and how to overcome them, she answered with this:
“As a nurse, there are many hardships. One of these hardships is the stress that comes with working in the healthcare industry. Burnout is one of the most common things that can affect nurses, and I personally think it is really important to make sure that I don’t burnout. For me, this means I separate my job and my life. I make sure that I make my life beyond nursing and do something else other than work. I like having different outlets to release stress such as going skiing, going shopping, going out to eat, hiking, and hanging out with family and friends.”
If someone close to you is under a lot of stress, try your best to support them with what they need and encourage them to take some time for themselves to release it. You can make suggestions to them or even organize and partake in stress busting activities together or in a group. As we continue to live and grow, we will face numerous challenges and stressors as individuals and as a community. Once we are able to properly mediate the stress we face in our own lives, the hope is that we will be able to help others in need as well and as a collective, cohesive community come out of each ordeal supportive and united against whatever we may face next.
Call To Action
- Do you have a certain way that you find effective in managing your stress and would recommend to others to try?
- How do you think you could help people deal with stress on a larger scale?
- Are you stressed right now? Take some time right now to alleviate some of it using any method you want.
If you have any questions or comments or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Centre on Studies On Human Stress
More Information On Stress
More In-depth Guide on Stress Management
Perceived Stress Test (Not to be used for official diagnosis or professional medical reasons)
Works and Resources Cited
Click here for the list of citations
Thank You For Reading!