The Five Top Tips on How to Reduce, Prevent, and Cope with Stress
July 30, 2014
Stress is a very complex combination of triggers and events that upset the mental, physical, mental and spiritual aspect of a person. People respond differently depending on their state of mind at the time.
There is a plethora of tips and strategies that one can tune into in order to be able to cope with stress on a superficial level. However, the real help lies within the old adage of Alcoholics Anonymous:
“Change what you can change,
don’t try to change what you can’t, and
have the wisdom to know the difference.”
If you are not effectively responding to a stress trigger then this means you have a problem.
It is all very well to advise that you need to look at things differently, soak in a bath, go for a run, or have a massage. The problem with these superficial platitudes is that they do not really help for longer than the time it takes to complete the event.
Understanding The Body’s Stress Response
As humans we interpret events or situations as being good or bad for us. We respond in a very primitive way. We are being threatened. Should we run or should we stay and fight. Because our bodies have been programmed this way, the bodies’ nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action, irrespective of the eventual outcome of the perceived threat.
If we are in a continual state of perceived threat, eventually our bodies’ ability to shut down this automatic response pattern reduces. Hence, beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.
The effects of chronic stress on your body and wellbeing
The body doesn’t distinguish between physical and psychological threats. If you have had an argument, are stuck in traffic, or just really busy your body reacts just as strongly as if you were facing a life-or-death situation. If you have a lot of responsibilities and worries, your emergency stress response may be “on” most of the time. The more your body’s stress system is activated, the harder it is to shut off.
Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. The stress patterns become embedded in your DNA. So, trying to change negative patterns with superficial methods will not have any great or lasting effect on your ability to reduce your stress.
Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. Chronic stress can exacerbate pain, depression, heart disease, weight problems, sleep, digestive problems and a whole host of other conditions.
The point is if you do not do anything about your stress responses you will create not only dis-ease but also the possibility of disease.
What can we do to alleviate our stress in our lives?
1. Change what you can change
There are internal and external stress triggers. Learning to distinguish between these and being able to make a conscious decision about what you can do about these events is crucial.
Can I change the fact that a friend or relative has died? Can I solve my relationship difficulties? Am I able to seek help for my financial woes? Am I able to be less busy and focus more on my family? Am I able to take action on my negative self talk? Is it possible to alter my unrealistic expectations, my perfectionism?
2. Don’t try to change what you cannot change
You cannot change events that have happened in the past. It is a self-defeating exercise trying to control possible future events. You can take positive steps to ensure a financially secure future, have a more healthy life, feel happy and secure within yourself, but you cannot successfully control anyone else.
You can worry about the past and keep beating yourself up trying to change what happened. You can project fear into the future about how your life will be. However, if you concentrate on the present, these two imposters will take care of themselves. Will worry change an event? Will excessive control make your life easier?
3. Have the wisdom to know the difference
You may feel like the stress in your life is out of your control, but you can always control the way you respond. Managing stress is all about taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. Stress management involves changing the stressful situation when you can, changing your reaction when you can’t, taking care of yourself, and making time for rest and relaxation.
4. The three essentials for a stress free life
Stress makes your bodies’ cells have difficulty communicating
what they need due to electrical malfunction, a reduced level of electrolytes. If you keep flooding your body with coffee, alcohol, smoke, trans fats, and so on, you eventually become dehydrated. You need more water to increase cell communication.
Chemicals flooding the body will lead to tense muscles. This will eventually cut off the flow of chi, the flow of nutrients to your cells. You need to learn how to relax. Deep belly breathing for short periods of time is very useful, or meditation.
If you have developed a habit of eating more junk food, you will be deprived of vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals necessary for improving function and health. Take a reliable brand of vitamins and minerals.
5. Seek treatment or therapy
Therapy also may be a good idea if you feel overwhelmed, trapped or simply cannot cope or make proper decisions. If you worry excessively, or if you have trouble carrying out daily routines or meeting responsibilities at work, home or school, then therapy would be beneficial. Professional counsellors or therapists can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.
From the Heart,
The Life Path Counsellor and Coach
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