Stress Awareness And Ways To Cope
While we’re in the throes of this busy end-of-year hustle leading into 2022, it’s a great chance to take the time to appreciate stress.
You may be wondering why we should give this unpleasant feeling any extra air time. You may be thinking, "Appreciate stress? Why?"
Because stress is only trying to help – but unfortunately, it's all too easy for stress to build up or kick in at the wrong time and slow us down or impact our wellbeing. So, what should we be aware of when it comes to stress?
Stress can be good
Stress is a physiological reaction in our nervous system in response to stimuli. Stress is our fight-or-flight response, and it can save our lives.
In many modern lives, stress triggers aren’t life-threatening, but unfortunately, our nervous system cannot always tell us the difference. Deadlines, traffic, how the kids are going at school, what to bring to that BBQ, what to make for dinner… Everyday decisions or worries can kick our nervous system into action and make us feel like we are in real danger, whether we are or not.
Ever heard of eustress? Eustress is a positive reaction to a stressor when we're presented with a challenge or opportunity, and we feel excited, motivated, aroused or generally "good". This "good stress" can help us achieve our goals and stay active and happy.
The stress that usually comes to mind is "distress"; restlessness, lack of focus, tension, fear... all those unpleasant emotions. It is this kind of stress that can run rampant, sending us signals saying "THREAT!" when really we're just receiving a call from an unknown number.
It's okay to admit you are stressed
You know what doesn't help dial down stress levels? Ignoring or denying it's happening.
Now, we're not recommending you put all your energy into focusing on your stress – when you do have the choice, aim to choose calm over panic. Rather, we suggest acknowledging the stress you're experiencing so you can take positive, intentional steps to reduce your stress levels.
There's no shame in feeling overwhelmed by stress, though it isn't good for us to let it carry on for too long. Our bodies are wired to create stress for survival, so we need doses of it now and then – it's perfectly natural but not sustainable or healthy in constant or high doses. Sometimes we need to take the reins back and guide ourselves toward that inner calm and balance when stress tries to take control.
How to cope better with stress
- Speak to those you trust about your feelings.
- Ask for support: flexible deadlines, a night off from doing dishes, babysitting etc.
- Seek professional help if you're struggling with anxiety or feel overwhelmed for more than two weeks.
- Help your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) relax and activate your parasympathetic nervous system by providing it with extra sensory information: list things you can see, hear, taste, touch and smell.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Take deep breaths from your diaphragm.
- Reach for RESCUE Remedy® in times of emotional demand.
With that busy end of year period approaching fast, many of us may be looking at our most stressful time of year ahead. Give your future self a helping hand by practising the above tips and stocking up on RESCUE Remedy® to keep on hand to help relieve stress and mild anxiety, naturally.
Everyone will experience stress to some degree at some stage of their life. Whether a student preparing for exams, a parent balancing home life and work life, or anyone trying something new or challenging, stress will find its way to us all eventually.
When stress does rear its head, having strategies ready to go can help guide you back to a place of control and calm. Some of the above tips may work well for you, or you may have your own methods of mindfulness or routine to combat a stress overdose. If it works for you, and it isn’t harming yourself or those around you in the process – go for it!
If you are struggling with feelings of excessive stress, anxiety or overwhelm, reach out to your loved ones and a professional. Silence gives stress more power – talking about it can help you claim some power back. Aim to be aware of your stress levels and take the time to breathe, plan ahead, exercise, and cope however works for you.