A detailed look at Stress and how to get rid of stress
What is stress?
Stress is a conditioned reaction which has both physical and mental characteristics.
A so-called ‘Modern Illness’, stress has the potential to ruin lives.
If you suffer from stress you will want to know the best ways to relieve stress.
Everyone experiences stress. Everyone who suffers from stress should learn ways to relieve stress before their health becomes compromised. Stress is a well-known trigger for depression (generally starting with mental exhaustion, followed by confusion, frustration then guilt and depression. Following on from depression leads to diminished cognitive performance [confusion] and thus pushes you up the scale) and if left to progress it will most likely affect your physical well being.
So it’s critical to recognize the causes of stress in your life and subsequently learn how to get rid of stress. Stress has the ability to emerge from anywhere: day-to-day activities, relationships, work, life changes, illness, even from enjoyable events. Many people don’t even know they are stressed until they start to experience serious symptoms. Symptoms may be psychological, physical, or both. Physical feelings are experienced when your body reacts to stress, fear or anxiety. Such symptoms are frequently quoted as the ‘fight or flight’ response. This response rapidly and helpfully prepares the body for action. It readies us to possibly protect against or escape harm. Remember, stress is a natural and ordinary response (the “fight or flight” response). It begins when we recognize a danger. This response results in the following: –
- Increasing your heart rate as well as your blood pressure – To produce more blood to our muscles.
- Decreasing blood flow to your extremities.
- Producing more sweat – To cool us down.
- Tensing our muscles – Getting them primed for action.
- Taking deeper and quicker breaths – To supply oxygen to our muscles.
- Shutting down body functions that aren’t needed at the time e.g. digestion.
- Racing thoughts – Rapidly constricting the available options to make a quick response.
- Stepping up production of adrenaline.
- Increasing production of cortisol.
Cortisol is utilized by your body, even when you are not in a stressful situation, but it is termed the stress hormone because of its function during times of stress. Cortisol is created by the adrenal glands and plays a significant part in:
- Making certain glucose metabolises successfully in your body.
- Regulating blood pressure.
- Releasing insulin for correct blood sugar balance.
- Helping your body’s defense system.
- Helping your body react to inflammations.
Before looking at ways to relieve stress, you must first recognise the symptoms
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF STRESS?
- Lack of ability to focus, concentrate, poor memory.
- Trouble making decisions.
- Becoming easily irritated and constant worrying.
- Temper outbursts and impatience over unimportant concerns.
- Absence of self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy.
- Sleep problems or insomnia.
- Unexplained aches and pains, lower back pain.
- Panic attacks.
- Binge eating or lack of appetite.
- Alcohol or drug misuse, dependence.
- Tingling sensations in hands or feet.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Feeling weak.
- Grinding teeth.
- ‘Queasy’ stomach, ulcers as well as general uncomfortable sensations, vomiting.
- Fears of being left alone, the dark, of strangers and crowds.
- Sexual issues, impotence, frigidity.
- Withdrawal, avoiding social situations.
- Mental as well as emotional fatigue.
- Physical tiredness.
- High blood pressure.
- Minor headaches, frequent headaches, migraine or tension headaches.
- Chest pains.
- Increased abdominal fat.
The list goes on and on!
The following questionnaire will act as a rough guide for you to determine your existing level of stress. Make a selection for each question based on how regularly each symptom has been experienced over the last 6 months. Make sure you fill in your answers honestly as denial will do you no favors and reflects an advanced stage of non-coping.
Stress affects us all in one way or another. Some people cope well with their stress. Some people have learned to identify their stressors (the problems that cause peoples stress to be turned on) and deal with them appropriately. Regrettably, large numbers of us do not deal effectively with the stresses in our lives. Stress can also make physical dilemmas worse, lower your level of resistance to disease, and affect how well your body responds to sickness and how well you recover from minor setbacks.
Stress transpires when the pressures of life seem to be too much to handle or get out of control. A little amount of pressure is very good for us. We’re encouraged to do more and drive ourselves further to succeed. However; too much pressure and we begin to suffer, feeling not able to cope and out of control.
It makes sense to treat stress seriously and acquire help on ways to relieve stress more rapidly rather than later: like most other severe conditions it won’t go away unless you do something about it! In some ways it is less significant to know what causes stress, and more urgent to know ways to relieve stress and what stops us moving past it.
At this stage it is worth distinguishing between the two types of stress.
Acute stress is good stress. Your body has an autonomic nervous system that is activated during times of acute stress. This is what causes increased levels of adrenaline and cortisol and other hormones. All this happens to prepare for the “fight or flight response”.
The ANS (autonomic nervous system) is the component of the nervous system responsible for regulating involuntary essential functions like your digestive system, heart, and glands. In other words, it senses a need and automatically responds to it. Your ANS has two subsystems.
The sympathetic nervous system is the one that prepares the body for fight or flight. The parasympathetic nervous system is the other side. It is your relaxation response. Think of these two subsystems as a light switch. The sympathetic system increases the heart rate, reduces digestive activity, constricts the blood vessels, increases blood pressure and says, “Bring it on.” The parasympathetic system says, “Turn it off.” It slows the heart rate and returns those other body functions to normal.
The parasympathetic system, when initialised, relaxes the muscles. Imagine that tight shoulders and neck you experience when stressed. Now we’re more clearly starting to see the problem. For most of us, “bring it on” happens far more often than “turn it off.”
Chronic stress (the bad type) causes us to have too much cortisol in our bloodstream for too lengthy a duration. Defined as a state of ongoing physiological arousal because of a recognized risk. That threat is running through your nervous system flipping every light switch it can locate and never turning any of them off. Those two subsystems are designed to work in harmony. Keep in mind that well-known phrase from the movie Karate Kid? “Wax on, wax off.” Well, visualize waxing your car using just one side of the formula: wax on, wax on, wax on. What might your car resemble if you persisted in adding wax and never removed it?
This is the way chronic stress operates. The two subsystems are not working in harmony. The fight or flight reaction is being activated time after time after time yet the relaxation response is not being activated. The perceived danger is not going away.
Once upon a time we looked at specific jobs as high pressure jobs such as those in the sales and medical professions. These days what job is not high pressure? Is your company planning layoffs? Could your company perks be decreased? Will your wage keep up with rising costs? Each one of these concerns presents a perceived threat mainly because you might or might not know the answer to them.
How to get rid of stress
Below is a summary of information to help you overcome your stress.
General stress reducer tips on how to get rid of stress and ways to relieve stress:
- Manage your time practically. Keep a to-do list or daily planner as well as make sure to include time for stress reduction activities. Give precedence to the most important activities and do those first.
- Get exercise. Perform activities that are enjoyable. Regular physical activity is one of the best ways to deal with stress. It releases endorphins as well as gives you a natural “high.”
- Don’t use drugs or alcohol to cope with stress. Such substances will merely disguise the symptoms of stress. When you stop using them, the stress will recur.
- Take a break. Schedule a few short breaks throughout the day to help minimize your stress. Get up and stretch, go for a walk, call a friend. When you return to work, you’ll work more effectively.
- Reduce interruptions. Whenever you have something important to get done, make sure to block off a period of time when you are able to work without being disrupted or distracted. Put your phone on voice mail, close your door, or go somewhere to work where no one can find you.
- Eat nutritious foods. Avoid foods high in fat, sugar and sodium. If you are going to remain out all day, make sure to pack healthy snacks. Furthermore, do not skip meals because this will lower energy levels. Eliminate Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, energy drinks and fizzy drinks. Generally all drinks which contain caffeine. Caffeine intake can trigger a reaction that is comparable to the symptoms of anxiety. Healthy eating goes a long way in your pursuit to learn how to get rid of stress.
- Practice daily relaxation exercises. If done correctly and regularly this is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Good ones include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and visualization (imagining a relaxing scene, or reflecting on a positive experience). Listening to music (many studies have proved listening to music reduces blood pressure, heart rate, depression and anxiety), doing puzzles. Start a hobby you will enjoy.
- Think positive and learn to control worry. Rather than focusing on negative thoughts focus on positive features in your life and say at least a single positive thought to yourself every day.
- Recognize when you require help and get it. Searching for support is not a sign of weakness.
- Learn to say NO. Don’t feel accountable when you must tell others “no”. Taking on even more projects or working for others while you are overloaded will only cause you more stress. At times you may need to say no to fun things with friends too.
- Cognitive Restructuring. Put stressful situations in perspective. Ask yourself: “Will it make any difference a month from now? What about a year from this day?” Look at situations and try to see when you may likely be incorrectly viewing a problem and recognize the problem for what it is. It is important to acknowledge many of us form assumptions or have unnecessary worries that go far beyond what the situation calls for.
- Get sufficient sleep. Most people require 6-9 hours; however, most people give up sleep when they’re under stress to finish additional work. Use good time management tools therefore you do not have to do the “all-nighter”.
- Hone in on solutions instead of focusing on the problem. We typically focus on the problem instead of thinking of solutions on how to get rid of stress. We elevate stress as well as feel hopeless, helpless, or out of control.
- Do not disregard the positive aspects of your life. This style of thinking stops us feeling good about ourselves and can lower your confidence.
- Last but by no means least, “Sex”. Sex is a tremendous way to relax.
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