We all experience it, we can’t seem to get away from it, but it’s safe to say that none of us enjoy it. You guessed it – stress! Whether it’s bustling to finish taxes on time, dealing with a high-stress job, or juggling a work-life balance, stress can pile up more quickly than we can manage it. For Stress Awareness day, take a look at how does stress plays a part – both harmful and helpful – in our daily lives.
What Is Stress?
The term “stress” as we know it was actually coined by Hans Selye in 1936. He defined it as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”, but it’s better explained as your body’s way of responding to demands or perceived threats. When your brain recognizes something as a threat, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which ready your body for emergency action. This is also called fight-or-flight!
The Effects of Stress
Not all stress is bad stress, but did you know there’s actually a name for the good kind of stress? We call it eustress. This kind of stress is usually low-level and short-term, making it beneficial in your day-to-day life! Here are 3 reasons that show how a little short-term anxiety can actually benefit your brain and body:
- Stimulates the production of neurotrophins which strengthen the connections between neurons, boost productivity, and can even temporarily boost memory!
- Increases production of interleukins—chemicals that help regulate the immune system—providing a temporary defensive boost.
- Helps you enter a heightened sense of awareness, according to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
With the good comes the bad, and that’s true for stress as well! While short-term, low-level stressors can have great benefits, the same isn’t true for long-term stressors. This negative, chronic stress not only affects our mental state, but can lead to a range of physical problems ranging from mild acne to a heart attack. The most commonly reported physical effects of stress are:
- Muscle tightness or tension
- Chest pain
- Fatigue and/or lethargy
- Upset stomach
- Lowered libido
Managing Your Stress:
The simple cure? Chill out and don’t let everyday stressors get to you! It can be as simple as dedicating a few minutes of your day to a de-stressing activity. Whenever you have free time, grab your Bliss and try one of these de-stressing activities to improve your mood, energy, and quality of life:
If you’re stuck at work, hanging out at home, or just prefer to be alone as you de-stress, the activities below will come in handy. None of these need to take longer than a few minutes, but you can increase the time as needed:
- Relaxing music
For some, stress can lead to isolation which actually increases the likelihood of anxiety and depression! If you can handle being around others, try gathering some low-maintenance friends and heading out to do one of the activities below:
- Exercise class
- Running group
- Dog walking
- Coffee dates
Sometimes it’s nice to know that your de-stressing support system is right there when you need it. Since we all have our phones on us anyways, why not try one of these apps that are meant to help you check out for a second and find a peaceful headspace:
How are you taking time to manage your stress today?
Tell us in the comments below!