Some of us experience extended periods of health-consuming stress in our lives and we do not recognize it. What does stress look like to you?
The body’s normal reaction to any change that requires a response or a shift in daily life initiates the release of stress hormones, otherwise, we would never react to, or take responsibility for anything in life. Even the best events in our lives, such as purchasing a home, or planning a wedding, can bring on a feeling of stress.
When we experience extreme situations, such as having to slam on the brakes in our car, or when we receive jolting news, our body immediately releases stress hormones that help us quickly react and remain safe and alive. Our heart may feel as if it is beating out of our chest for a few minutes due to the rush of stress hormones in our blood, but that quickly diminishes.
The difference between how we react to a normal challenge in life, as well as a near-accident, is rooted in whether it is a temporary vs. chronic response. When the typical challenges of life pop in, stress appears as higher blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, stiffness in the neck, shoulders, or muscular areas of the body.
Anxiety is our most common reaction to stress, and long-term (chronic) stress can linger and create mental and physical effects that disturb our immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems.
Mental signs of stress include a sense of worry, panic, or an overall feeling that your day has changed or went off track, leaving you feeling challenged or even traumatized. We all experience this, but we do not want that for you!
A real-life example of chronic stress: You may know that going on that river walk with your girlfriends in Austin will be therapeutic to your mind and body (after all, you have had enough with the lingering pandemic/work situation/homeschooling, etc.), but you have recently experienced difficulty recovering from exercise of any kind. Combine that with your lack of sleep, “Wow” you say, “It simply feels like too much!” The headache that you have had for days just got worse and your neck and shoulder tension is off-the-charts, so you decide “I don’t want to deal with this!” So, you choose to stick it out at home. As the event day approaches, your decision to stay home seems to only add to your feelings of depression, and all those stress-related physical and mental symptoms multiply. Ugh!
So, what’s next when you are feeling these levels of stress in your lives? Let’s talk about how you can claim yourself the BOSS of your stress level.
How to Manage Stress
We cannot make the normal challenges in life go away, but we can manage our mental and physical reaction to stress by practicing some simple measures
Control Your Stress Response
Respond to the initial symptoms of stress through a mindful practice of deep and slower breathing, as well as a mental determination to face whatever is challenging you with an “I can do this” sense of calm. Keep in mind, your purpose is to not allow momentary stress to stretch out to chronic stress.
As you get into the realm of controlled calm, ask yourself, is there anything that you can do to prevent or help the situation that brought on the stress reaction? If yes, determine what practical and small steps you can take to remedy the circumstance(s). Do what you can do in the moment, and then allow yourself off the hook until you can take the next step. No worrying over it (remember baby steps…).
If you cannot do anything to help the situation, remove your attention from the problem altogether.
This may sound easier said than done, but once you make this a practice, it will begin to feel natural. In the meantime, let’s look at some additional steps you can take to manage stress.
Reach out for Support
If you cannot fix a situation that stresses you, can somebody else help? Asking for help can be difficult, especially for women (yes, we know!), but we are not designed to go it alone without support or community. Look at it this way, when you seek help you have already explored your options, and you ARE dealing with it. Boom! You have given it your absolute best and you are managing stress! Yay, you!
What can you do today to reciprocally strengthen your body and mind to prepare for and deal with stress? Hint—it is all about taking care of YOU, self-care. You do not have to take big leaps to edge off stress. Consider eating better, exercising (remember, walking is an excellent way to combat stress and absorb health-promoting sunshine and fresh air!), partake in activities that you love, take a break from tech (put your phone down and turn off the television), and take measures to get better sleep.
A Different Type of Stress Relief
Days can be full of stress, worry, and pain and it starts to feel like it’s just a way of life. I believe there is a way to balance that stress and pain. I love to say that you can live a pain free life! It may take time, change, and experimentation, but if you seek for it you may find it. I want Sage Blossom to be a part of that process for you, a way to live a better, healthier, and more balanced life. We are part of your feel better team!
Sage Blossom can be your stress-managing getaway in Austin, TX!