It’s 2020 with the advancement of technology and science and evolution of humans, we still haven’t been able to figure out one common binding problem among all of us, how to handle STRESS.
While a few people have a good grip on managing stress but the larger portion of the population is still struggling with it on a daily basis.
What is stress?
Stress is the body's reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses.
In layman’s terms: stress is situations that you feel you are not equipped to handle.
Let’s take an example: Say you are a Trader in a big company. On a daily you talk to 10/15 clients personally. You are really good at your job and doing well.
Now I ask you to come and give a talk about your work in front of 2000 people. The same thing you say to your clients on the daily. In this situation if you are like most people, you will feel stressed out. You’ll be nervous about the talk and maybe not go through with it.
Same words but just in front of a large crowd can make you feel stressed beyond your threshold.
In the modern jungle, giving that presentation, being stuck in traffic, confronting a disgruntled client, facing an angry spouse, or trying to meet some unrealistic deadline is what stresses you out.
Our innate response to stress is Fight or Flight.
It is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival.
So at the moment we feel stressed, we either tackle the situation and fight it till the end or we run away and try to block it out. The latter is a harmful way of dealing with stress as the problems pile up and it could become overbearing.
We throw around the word stress sometimes without even actually being stressed. When we don’t understand an emotion we think we are just stressed. The question to contemplate is
Are we really as stressed as we are making ourselves belief?
So let’s start with this – What does stress mean to YOU?
Is it work pressure?
Is it family?
Is it love?
Is it finance?
Or just general everyday hustle bustle of life?
Find out what genuinely is stressing you out and begin from there.
It’s not stress that kills us; it’s our reaction to it - Hans Selye
Types of stress
1. Acute stress:
It is smaller duration of stress that you may face. For example, getting late for a meeting, missing a flight, argument with your boss, fights with your spouse.
2. Chronic Stress:
It’s a prolonged process through time. For example, being in a toxic relationship or being overworked or having financial problems.
This is the good stress that you feel and helps you to do better. For example, finding out you are having a baby, or promotion at work, or getting married.
It’s where one feels anxiety, sorrow or pain. For example, loss of a loved one, divorce, gets fired.
Bodily response to stress
Your heart rate speeds up, and your blood pressure rises. More blood is pumped to your muscles and lungs.
You breathe more rapidly, and your nostrils flare, causing an increased supply of air.
Your digestion slows.
Your blood is directed away from your skin and internal organs and shunted to your brain and skeletal muscles. Your muscles tense. You feel stronger. You are ready for action.
Your blood clots more quickly, ready to repair any damage to your arteries.
Your pupils dilate.
Your liver converts glycogen into glucose, which teams up with free fatty acids to supply you with fuel and some quick energy.
In short, when you’re experiencing stress, your entire body undergoes a dramatic series of physiological changes that readies you for a life-threatening emergency. Clearly, stress has adaptive survival potential. Stress, way back when, was nature’s way of keeping you alive.
Stress and illness
Stress plays a vital role not just on our emotions but also our health. Majority of people are suffering through illnesses because of stressful lifestyles.
Our immune system is a collection of billions cells that travel through the bloodstream. They move in and out of tissues and organs, defending the body against foreign bodies (antigens), such as bacteria, viruses and cancerous cells.
When we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That is why we are more susceptible to infections.
The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system. Stress can also have an indirect effect on the immune system as one may use unhealthy behavioural coping strategies to reduce their stress, such as drinking, smoking, unhealthy eating habits.
Stress can have an effect on our digestive system which can lead to ulcers and much worse.
Stress responses increase strain upon circulatory system due to increased heart rate etc. Stress can also effect the immune system by raising our blood pressure.
Hypertension is one of the main factors in heart disease.
Stress also produces an increase in blood cholesterol levels, through the action of adrenaline and noradrenaline on the release of free fatty acids. This produces a clumping together of cholesterol particles, leading to clots in the blood and in the artery walls and occlusion of the arteries.
In turn, raised heart rate is related to a more rapid build-up of cholesterol on artery walls. High blood pressure results in small lesions on the artery walls, and cholesterol tends to get trapped in these lesions.
In a gist, stress can not only mentally but physically too make a person weak and weary.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over the other” – William James
Stress and Behaviour
If you think it, you believe it.
Stress is as simple as ABC
A→ B → C where
→A is the Activating event or triggering situation. It’s the “stressor.”
→B is your Beliefs, thoughts, or perceptions about A.
→C is the emotional, physical, and behavioural consequence or “stress” that results from holding these beliefs.
As mentioned Belief plays a vital role in stress. How we think and perceive situations plays the most important part in stress. Sometimes when we have negative self talk or I can’t do it attitude, smaller problems can appear to be bigger and cause unnecessary stress to us. Even if you can’t significantly change the situations and events that are triggering your stress, you can change the way you perceive them.
What your beliefs, thoughts, perceptions, and interpretations — is critical in determining how much stress you feel. Any situation you feel is beyond your control or you cant cope is a stressful situation for you.
You may find that much, if not most, of your stress is self-induced, and you can learn to see things differently.
So if you are stuck at traffic, instead of getting angry and stressed, take a deep breath and listen to a podcast or see the life around you. Being mindful is one of the best ways to reduce stress and be completely present in the moment. It can help you get your focus back and perceive the situation in a calmer and a different way.
Your thinking plays a larger role than you may believe in creating your stress.
Most of the times we try to eliminate every kind of emotion that is negative from our life by doing whatever is in our power to find momentary happiness.
Instead if we start feeling our emotions completely and not pile them up we can lead a much better balanced lifestyle without the baggage of our emotions. Stress is a part of life. No one can go through daily life without stress and why should one want to? The good stress helps us become better than we were before, it means we deeply care about something and hence we are stressed about it.
On the other hand, prolonged stress can become a negative force, and it can rob you of much of life’s joy. Too little stress means you’re missing out, taking too few risks, and playing it too safe.
Finding the right amount of stress is like finding the right tension in a violin string. Too much tension and the string can break; too little tension and there is no music.
Find your rhythm and dance through life’s up’s and downs without harming your physical and mental self.
What am I really stressed about and why?
Find out your answer and work to gain the abilities, skills and opportunities you are lacking.
There is only one way to deal with stress that is upgrading ourselves every day and becoming the best potential version we can.
Ultimately, a diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handles stress very well.