Stress is something that we all feel in our lives. Stress, to a certain extent, is a good thing for us as goal-oriented beings. A certain amount of stress can be a motivating factor for us to get things done and do them well. For instance, if we did not stress at all then we would never get homework done or finish any work projects and even if we did finish these things, they probably would be done poorly. Stress motivates us to do this kind of work at a desirable level. Although some stress is good, when we think about stress we tend to think about the negative stress in our lives. When life challenges us we sometimes lose our ability to comfortably cope and this leads us to have negative stress in our lives. When we become stressed our body tries to protect us by initiating the “fight-or-flight” response in order to help us cope with the given stress. The “fight-or-flight” response is our natural survival instinct. If our brain or body believes that we are in some sort of danger, then this response is activated. For instance, this response is activated when somebody jumps out and scares you but I can also be activated when you are feeling nervous before a big presentation. Unfortunately, it is not a perfect system and sometimes this response turns on when you are not in any life-threatening danger (like before a presentation). In this case, the physical effects of anxiety (increase in heart rate, increased alertness, fidgetiness, etc.) become activated and can remain present for a long period of time. Sometimes our lives become so fast-paced and we feel like we do not even get the chance to process and cope with our daily stressors. This can prevent our “fight-or-flight” response from shutting off. When this happens, we can become overwhelmed with the constant negative bodily feelings that accompany the “fight-or-flight” response. Stress management may be necessary when it comes down to being overwhelmed by stress. Stress management presents you with some tools to help reset the “fight-or-flight” response. It is very important because high levels of stress over long periods of time may lead to serious health implications in the future. Practicing stress management can lead you into a happy and healthy life.
Here are some tools or techniques to practice stress management:
- Avoidance of caffeine
- Exercise of any sort
- Get adequate amounts of sleep
- Relaxation techniques: meditation, yoga, or breathing techniques
- Keep a stress diary
- Time management
Here are some previous blog posts that may include some helpful tips for stress management:
- “De-Clutter Your Mind”
- “Mindful Cleansing”
- “Inhale, Exhale, Repeat”
Most importantly, taking control of your own life and talking to somebody about stressors can lead to a less stressful life. Even if you practice a technique for only 20 minutes out of your day, it can have some positive effects on your well-being. There are many positive and effective stress management techniques out there, so just explore until you find one (or a combination) that works for you!
As always, if you ever find yourself feeling stuck or completely overwhelmed, please do not hesitate to seek help. If you are in the NW Indiana and Chicago area, call us for an appointment at Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. We are located at 6819 W. 167th Street, Tinley Park, IL. We can be reached at (708) 633-8000.
Kassidy at Olive Branch