Stress: Understand It Better

On this site, in the Solid Blog and on Wellness Wednesdays on The Spin, we discuss ongoing strategies, ideas and plans for sustaining ongoing foundation for mental health and wellness. 
If you or anyone is struggling or in crisis right now, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room. Alternatively, crisis resources can be found here.

Many of us tend to think of things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and that “being stressed” is generally how we think about stress.

Understanding stress better: Biologically speaking, the reason why we experience stress is as a survival mechanism. Experiencing stress is our body’s way of letting us know that there’s something for us to pay attention to.

And not all stress is ‘bad’: Without certain types of stress, we wouldn’t push ourselves to improve, try new things, adapt to changes and be alert when we need to be. 

I hope one of the themes that’s a thread from our Wellness Wednesday talks is that it’s about balance. It’s not about trying to create conditions that make things stress-free, it’s about understanding the kinds high-level stress which can be difficult to deal with or even paralyzing, versus being resilient to be able to deal with everyday inevitable stressors, such as those that come with relationships, work and everyday situations like traffic.

Just as with all of our experiences, we all experience stress differently. 

However, there are studies that have shown that ongoing high levels of stress can impact us on a cellular level and has been shown to have a negative impact physiologically.

What are some signs that you are experiencing “too much” stress?

  • Inability to focus or get things done
  • Compromised immune system. ie – Get sick with colds / flus more often
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty with sleep
  • More anxious or angrier than usual

How to better manage stress: 

  • Cultivating emotional resilience – Being able to better regulate emotions. Mindfulness practices and meditation can be beneficial.
  • Self care through activity – Know what activities or things helps you de-stress. For some people it’s running, for others it’s yoga or martial arts, climbing or going for walks.  It’s helpful to incorporate movement to utilize the adrenaline and cortisol, that are stress hormones.
  • Connect socially – We tend to withdraw when we are experiencing difficulty, sharing difficulties or challenges can result in a sense of ‘sharing the load’.
  • Create an awareness – Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out if the kind of stress being experienced is reasonable and as a result, may tolerate more stress than can be healthy. If you are experiencing signs of “too much” stress, it’s likely helpful to explore ways of managing the stress or that situation in ways that work better for you.

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