Stress & It’s Impact
We experience stress in a variety of ways. Life has so many twists, turns, transitions, and surprises it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. There are big life events that are stressful, but there are also moments, demands, duties, obligations, and more throughout our days that may trigger us to feel overwhelmed or stressed. I previously made a pamphlet about coping with stress that is available to be downloaded below. There are four kinds of stress:
- Acute Stress: fight or flight response when the body is preparing to defend itself. In this type of stress the body may experience increased heart rate, tense muscles, and breathing faster (National Institute of Mental Health; American Institute of Stress).
- Chronic Stress: ongoing acute stress without the body being able to find relief (AIS).
- Eustress/Routine Stress: Stress from daily life with positive connotation, such as work, relationships, marriage, school, hobbies, etc. (AIS).
Stress impacts us physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is important for us to have a balance of stress and the release of stress in order for us to thrive and be functioning at our best. How do we go about doing that though? How do you cope with stress? Some of the ideas below are possibly things you are already doing or might inspire you to try a new technique to cope with or manage stress in your life.
Coping with Stress
There are healthy and destructive ways that we choose to cope with stress. There are two main ways that we can build resilience, which allows us to cope with stress effectively. The first way is through our sensations and the second is through capturing our thoughts and emotions. Both of these strategies are essential to building resilience and being our best selves.
Our body’s natural way of experiencing anything is first through sensations. When we experience stress and relaxation we experience that through sensations in our body. For example when I am stressed I often feel a tightness in my chest, a clinching in my stomach, or tension in my shoulders. When I am feeling relaxed or calm I feel my tension loosen, tingling throughout my body, or deeper breathing. Here are some activities you can practice to possibly increase calming sensations:
- Tracking Your Body: It can be uncomfortable or odd to tune into our bodies to see what sensations we are experiencing when we are feeling stress or calm. Take some time to notice the sensations you are feeling in our body, but if it is something that is triggering to you for any reason shift your attention to one of the other activities.
- Grounding: put your attention to a surface supporting you. This could be the ground underneath your feet, the chair against your back, or any solid surface. Put all of your attention on that surface and when your thoughts drift just refocus.
- Resourcing: focus your attention on a positive experience. This could be a favorite hobby, place, or moment. Focus on what sensations you experience when doing that activity. For example, one of my resources that I think about is bookbinding. I put my attention to what it feels like to have the waxed thread in between my fingers, what it feels like to fold the paper, or glue the covers. Just focus in and allow your mind and body to relax into the resource you are focusing on.
Capturing our thoughts or using our thinking brain to experience calmness and build resilience can include a variety of activities. The essence of this is resetting, processing, reframing, or shifting our thoughts so that we do not spiral or become overtaken by our stress. Here is a list of ways to possibly do this:
- Practicing Acceptance
- Positive Self-Talk
- Exercise, Walking, Yoga
- Going Outside
- Listening to Music
Comment below if there is a strategy in this post you are going to try or how you cope with stress in life!
National Institute of Health. 5 things you should know about stress.
NIH Publication No. 19-MH-8109. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml
American Institute of Stress. What is stress. Retrieved from https://www.stress.org/daily-life