Stressful situations accompany each of us in our daily lives. Small doses can spur action and motivate, but chronic stress can lead to side effects in the form of physical and mental health problems. So how to deal with stress?
The concept of stress was introduced by Hans Hugo Selye, who believed that the source of many of our illnesses is failure to cope with difficult situations. According to the definition, stress is a physiological reaction of the body to various environmental factors, so-called stressors. Stressors can be both physical factors, such as noise or illness, and social factors, such as the loss of a loved one and lack of employment.
When experiencing stress, the autonomic nervous system is activated and begins to secrete the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which are responsible for arousal. This results in an increased cardiovascular response, increased blood flow to active muscles and intense breathing to facilitate a faster response to danger.
Types and symptoms of stress
According to the American Psychological Association, we can distinguish three types of stress:
- acute – occurs as a result of a sudden threat, physical, psychological or economic stimulus,
- chronic – occurs when there are long-term stressors. It is distinguished by constant tension, exhaustion and reduced ability to regenerate the body,
- traumatic – a reaction to life- or health-threatening situations.
Stress can also have a second, positive, face. The so-called eustress is a type of stress that improves performance, motivates effective action and task completion.
Among the symptoms of chronic stress that should raise our concern are:
- accelerated heart rate and elevated blood pressure,
- fatigue and difficulty sleeping,
- a sense of tension,
- irritability, nervousness,
- persistent thoughts,
- attention deficit disorder,
- increased sweating,
- headaches and chest pain,
- social withdrawal,
- heart disease,
- lower immunity,
- hair loss.
Techniques for dealing effectively with stress
Proven methods are helpful in the fight against stress. Not only are the techniques used in ad hoc situations of stress and crisis important and helpful, but, above all, a healthy lifestyle that keeps our body regenerated and resilient, allowing it to better cope with tension.
The best known and simplest way to help us manage stress is deep breathing. In a stressful situation, we focus on calm and steady breathing. Controlled inhalations and exhalations will help reduce feelings of anxiety and restore inner balance. It is a good idea to do breathing exercises every day for a few minutes, for example, in the morning after waking up. You can use apps for this, such as Prana Breath or Headspace: Meditation & Sleep.
Practicing sports not only helps maintain a healthy weight and affects the appearance of the figure, but most importantly, it makes us feel better. Exercise makes our psyche relax, and negative emotions are discharged. Activity also makes it easier to fall asleep.
Quality and regularity of sleep are essential for the body to get adequate rest. If we are restored, we can better cope with stressful situations. Do you suffer from insomnia or have trouble falling asleep? Try taking a bath with essential oils, drinking herbal tea (lemon balm, chamomile or lavender) or listening to relaxing music. These methods make it easier to relax.
Meditation is worth introducing into our daily life. We can combine it with breathing exercises, listening to relaxing music and visualization, which involves imagining positive things or favorite places and scenes. Meditation helps to change negative attitudes and overcome stressful moments.
main photo: unsplash.com/Elisa Ventur