In my last post I stated that we are surrounded by change. Unfortunately, the same can be said for stress. In this post I will discuss the effects of stress and how to combat it.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines stress as: A physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation. I define stress as: the physical and/or mental tension that occurs when our mind convinces our body not to beat the hell out of someone that clearly deserves it.
Physically, stress is a chemical reaction that takes place in the body when subjected to a threatening situation that is either real or imagined. These chemicals cause our heart to beat faster, blood pressure to rise, breathing to quicken and our muscles to tense in preparation for our response to the threat.
During episodes of short-term stress this chemical reaction ceases when the stressful situation terminates. The chemicals are then reabsorbed back into our body and we suffer no long-term effects. However, many of us regularly experience stress on a daily basis (at work, at home, during our daily commutes, etc.). This continual release of stress-related chemicals into our bodies can lead to disastrous results.
Stress is very often unavoidable and can affect every aspect of our life. Chronic stress impacts our health, emotions, behaviors and ability to think. Since it is unavoidable, allow me to provide you with 5 steps to help combat it:
- Create and maintain a close, personal, working relationship with God/the higher power or force that gives you life. Trust in its existence and communicate on a regular basis. Sincerely stating: “Help me to know you better” is enough to begin this communication process. The benefit of this step is “peace of mind”.
- Recognize what stresses you. Once you know what triggers your stress you will then be in a better position to counteract its effects.
- Find a relaxation technique that works for you. There are many relaxing activities used to reduce stress. They include: exercise, meditation, yoga, visiting with friends, gardening, controlled breathing and many others.
- Reward yourself! Did you know that stressed spelled backwards is “desserts”? And that eating dark chocolate counteracts the effects of stress on the body. I didn’t make that up! Check it out for yourself.
- Be gentle with yourself! We're going to make mistakes in life and do things we wish we hadn't done. Let’s turn these mistakes into learning experiences. These experiences can then become lessons we use to help ourselves and others avoid similar pitfalls in the future.
Finally, one day I asked my doctor “What percentage of your office visits result from the effects of stress opposed to those resulting from injury, sickness or illness?” Her response was approximately 90% resulted from stress and 10% from all other reasons. She stated that after a brief discussion she could normally pinpoint the event causing the stress in her patients.
I hope this post has been beneficial in helping you identify and combat the effects of stress on your life. Thank you and God bless.