Work, family, and personal relationships are very often the greatest and most fulfilling aspects of our lives. They make us happy; they make us feel complete; they motivate us; make us laugh; and in many ways, make us a better person than we would be without them. However, like just about everything else in life, these wonderful and sought after aspects are a doubled-edged sword and can also be the cause of the one thing most of us try to avoid – stress.
We have all experienced it to varying degrees, but what exactly is stress? Simply put, stress is your bodies response to certain situations, usually less than ideal ones. Stress, however, is subjective, so something that is stressful for you may not be stressful for someone else.
Stress can be all encompassing when it comes to how it affects us. It can impact you physically, mentally and will often alter your behavior. On a basic and primal level, our bodies have evolved in certain ways to handle stress, albeit, the stimulus has changed. Your body responds to stress by producing chemicals and hormones to help you rise to the challenge. Your heart rate increases, your brain works faster, and you have a sudden burst of energy. It is this response that our ancestors used to keep themselves safe, allowing them to avoid danger such as hungry predators or attackers.
Today, it is unlikely that your stress stimulus is due to being attack by a bear or falling into a rushing river, but that doesn’t make the feelings that stress induces any less real. And while it can be easy to think of stress as a singular type of response, in reality, there are different types of stress, and not all of them bad.
Acute stress is by and by the most common types of stress and is your body’s immediate response to a new challenge, event or demand. In its most basic of forms, this is a stimulus eliciting your natural “flight or fight” response. Acute stress isn’t always negative, for it can also be enjoyable and beneficial, like riding a rollercoaster or working a little harder to meet a deadline.
Episodic acute stress is when acute stress occurs frequently. Many of us know someone who seems to be in a perpetual state of crisis. These people are often short-tempered, anxious, and irritable. These people are also at a higher risk of negative health effects associated with their stress.
Finally, we have chronic stress, which happens when acute stress isn’t resolved and begins to increase or lasts for long periods of time. Worse than episodic, this stress is a constant in the sufferers lives and often stems from deep-seeded issues such as poverty, a dysfunctional family, a loveless marriage or a dead end job. Like episodic stress, chronic stress is detrimental to one’s health, and studies have linked it to heart disease, cancer, lung disease, cirrhosis of the liver, an increase in accidents and suicide.
So now that we have established what stress is and the different types of it; it begs the question – what can be done about it?
Although not usually ideal, the reality is stress is unlikely to go anywhere, so it is up to us to find ways of handling it. While this in itself can be the source of stress (yes, being stressed about being unable to not be stressed is a thing), there are simple, practical and downright easy things that you can do to help mitigate stresses inevitable impact on your life.
Here are 10 practical and simple ways to handle stress:
One of the best ways to eliminate stress is to make sure that you keep your priorities in perspective. The problem with stress, however, is that often it has a tendency of blowing things out of proportion.
Stress causes drama; it causes us to overthink; and often, it causes us to create problems that shouldn’t even be there in the first place. So knowing we all do it, and most definitely knowing it is easier said than done, it begs the question, what can you do?
The answer is honestly, more specifically, honesty in respect to the repercussions, good and bad, of a situation. For example, let's say on your daily to-do list you have to finish a report for your boss, go grocery shopping after work, pick up the dry cleaning, and take the kids to hockey. Now, everything is going good, but your report took a bit longer than expected, and now you are a little pressed for time and may not be able to do all the things you have to do after work. Should you worry? Absolutely not! Instead, go to the grocery store because people need to eat, take the kids to hockey practice and then call it a day. And what about the dry cleaning? Well, it's only Tuesday and you don’t need it until Saturday; so why stress? Oh right, you don’t have to.