Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical pressure or tension experienced or suffered.
The feeling of stress is usually created when our bodies react or respond to a change, challenge or demand, also called stressors. It could come as a result of any event that causes you to become angry, frustrated, nervous, or a situation that creates a prolonged sense of urgency, or one that demands an output from you that's beyond your perceived capacity. That is to say, stress can also result from situations where we are made to break or exceed our limits either physically, or intellectually.
Over short time periods, stress can have positive outcomes like helping you avoid certain types of dangerous situations and outcomes, meeting up your contract, project or work deadline, outdoing your competition and performing beyond expectations. This kind of stress is also known as acute stress and everyone often experiences it at some point in their lives. It can be triggered when you perform an activity for the first time, when you skateboard down down a hill, or apply your brakes suddenly. Our bodies reacts to stress by releasing hormones. These hormones make our brain more alert, cause our muscles to tense, and increases our pulse rates. In the short term, these reactions are good because they can help you handle the situation causing stress. This is a defensive mechanism or the body's way of protecting itself.
But stress over prolonged periods of time without relief or rest is unhealthy and can be threatening to the quality of your life. This type of stress is also known as chronic stress and usually goes on for weeks, months and even years. You may have chronic stress if you have money problems, an unhappy marriage, or trouble at work.
Like certain ailments, stress usually comes with some types of physical and emotional symptoms and can lead to other health issues. Sometimes, you may not even realize they are caused by stress and other times, you can become so used to chronic stress that you don't realize it is a problem and can lead to health problems or cause you to experience symptoms such as:
High blood pressure
Skin problems such as acne, or eczema
Aches and pains, especially chest pains
Diarrhea or constipation
Frequent aches and pains
Lack of energy or focus
Stiff jaw or neck
Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
Upset stomach and digestive problems
Weak immune system
Weight loss or gain
Sadly, some people with chronic stress try to manage it with unhealthy behaviors, including:
Drinking alcohol too much or too often.
Overeating or developing an eating disorder (stress eating or eating too frequently).
Participating compulsively in sexual activities, shopping or internet browsing.
And using hard drugs.
We can’t avoid stress, but we sure can stop it from becoming overwhelming and detrimental to our health by performing certain activities and practices daily. These activities and practices include:
1. Eat Right and Drink a Lot of Water:
This basically means eating the right diet and eating the right portion. Avoiding the habit of overeating is one of the most brilliant ways to take good care of your body each day. Compared to smoking, drinking and eating junk food, taking lots of vegetables and fresh fruit is always going to be a far better choice when it comes to dealing with stress in a healthy, effective and productive way. Also very important, always remember to drink a lot of water. Dehydration is bad and causes your body and brain not to function at their optimal capacity. Just drinking lots of water can cause a lot of positive change than you realize, it reduces stress, regulates the body's acid concentration and keeps you refreshed.
Apart from staying fit and healthy, the aim of exercising is to boost your mood. Since stress over prolonged periods can result in health problems, it's only wise to make sure you keep exercising and keep your immune system strong and your body tough enough to withstand the wear and tear that comes with stress by increasing your endurance through exercising. The good news is that, even a short walk can go a long way when it comes to relieving you of stress and boosting your mood.
3. Relax When You Should and Don't Overwork Yourself:
Getting enough sleep helps your body handle stress much better. However, if you don't feel like napping, there are many other fun ways to relax. This could be watching your favorite comedy show or series, going for some outdoor games, playing video games, swimming, going for concerts, listening to your favorite genre of music, etc. You can also try out some relaxation activities, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises and muscle relaxation. You can find a lot of available relaxation programs online, on smartphone apps, and at many gyms and community centers.
Furthermore, learn when to say “no” to additional responsibilities and when to take a pause, especially when you are too busy or already stressed out or fatigued. Learn to give your body, brain and mind the rest it needs when you feel stressed, don't overdo it by overworking yourself.
4. Stay Positive and Quit Worrying:
Your mind state greatly affects your physical outputs, as well as the quality of your life and the state of your health. Practice gratitude and do your best to stay positive no matter what happens or comes your way. Avoid being around people who are negative and are toxic. If you can't avoid them, then make sure you don't let them, their words, and actions get to you and cause you to react negatively or to become negative and toxic as well. Everyday, as much as you can, take a moment to think about what you’ve accomplished — not what you didn’t get done. There's so much to be grateful and happy about, focus on all that, acknowledge the good parts of your day and life. Do your best not to worry about anything. Accept that you actually can’t control everything. Find ways to let go off worry about things you cannot change.
5. Try Out Something New, Do Something Fun and Productive:
Whatever it is, going for a photoshoot, gardening, exploring nature or historical sites, skydiving, hiking, going for concerts, events and shows, seeing a movie, signing up for and taking dance classes, making music, writing poetry, or taking a day out with family and/or friends, the aim is to get your excitement levels up as that'll automatically alleviate stress and is very likely to put you back in the mood for other creative activities or work. So try out something new or do something you love and enjoy, but make sure you focus on having fun and enjoying your time, this will make you happier and help you get rid of the feeling and effects of stress. Naturally, when we do fun things or try out new stuff, our brains and bodies secrete some hormones which increases our energy levels, makes us happier and more productive, relieves us of any physical pains or aches we might have been feeling, and also heals our physical bodies to a significant degree.
6. Talk With a Loved One:
Talking with a loved one you trust about stuff happening in your life and how you're currently feeling is most likely going to make you feel better. Try your best to remain connected to people who keep you positive, calm, make you happy, bring out the best in you, provide you with emotional support and help you with practical things. If you have no such people, you can always find a friend, family member or neighbor who is a good listener and is sure not to use your shared weaknesses and shortcomings against you in the future.
7. Make Use of Delegation:
Two good heads will always be better than one, and the same applies to two good hands. Never underestimate the value of team work. You can get more done in less time if you just have the right people to work with you. Sometimes the best way to deal with the problem of chronic stress is to create or expand your team or workforce. Learn to share responsibilities so that stress doesn’t become overwhelming.
8. Make Use of Good Task Management Systems:
Create a to do list, chunk up your large tasks into tiny bits so you can eat all your frogs (finish your tasks) before the deadline, if there's any. Setting goals for your days, weeks, months, and years will help you feel more in control of your moments and long-term tasks and it'll also help you avoid having that feeling of stress or it'll significantly reduce it.
Finally, if you feel overwhelmed, if you make use of drugs or alcohol to cope, or you are having thoughts about hurting yourself, you should consider seeking medical attention, or seeing a therapist. Also, do not forget that like everyone else on the planet, you are and you'll always be special and needed, whether or not the people around you recognize the fact.