Let’s talk about Stress, baby
Let’s talk about Stress, baby
Today we’re talking about the S word. Stress. That word that we’ve all experienced in some capacity. A 6 lettered word that can really define how we’re feeling across all grammatical categories; as a noun (“My level of stress is high”), verb (“You’re stressing me out”) or adjective (“It’s a really stressful situation”).
And while you already may have deciphered what stress means for you, or how it culminates in your life, there are a few different versions of stress to consider. Knowing the difference between them, and how to manage them effectively makes a huge difference in your day-to-day life, work and sport commitments. Let’s take a look.
What is stress?
Defined as a state of physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension resulting from demanding or overwhelming circumstances. This doesn’t necessarily mean horrible negative events. It could be a day to day activity or demand that culminates over time. What are the demands in your life? Is it a project deadline at work? Is it the pressure to be home in time to pick up the kids or make dinner?
In the very broadest of terms, stress can be divided into two groups – short term and long term. Short term stress will eventually be solved. These will come and go, you won’t have to deal with this type of stress for the rest of your life. And the good news is, most types are short term – and mostly everyone is able to deal with some short-term stress in their lives.
The ability to comprehend and anticipate ahead of time how and when stress may appear in your life will allow you to take control of the situation and make a plan to reduce your stress.
Short term examples
- Triggers: Reminders of past stress that is now producing a renewed stress response
- Acute: A small event in your day-to-day that is out of your control such as having a cold and not going into work for the day
- The Unknown: Experiencing stress due to a lack of information
Long term examples
- Chronic: Long-term stressful situations that may have no resolution in sight – i.e. a consistently high pressured job
- Ripple Effect: Stress that culminates from a change in routine or life event
There are other forms of stress too – like;
- Environmental – exposure to toxins, fumes, exhausts, etc
- Artificial light – blue light can seriously mess with our sleep, which is so important in the defense against stress
- Physical – intense exercise and exertion. Back in the day this would have been running from predators, now it’s more likely to be your HIIT class.
So now that I’ve stressed you (see what I did there) into understanding that it can be all around us in many different forms, and can affect us in pretty much every way possible, lets pull it back into perspective a bit…The more you know about stress, the more you can mindfully do about it.
And I’m all for the right amount of stress. When you know your sweet spot, stress is brilliant for motivation and getting sh*t done.
Whether your stress is coming from external events such as work or day-to-day commitments, sabre tooth tigers – by which I mean HIIT class – or any of the other stressors outlined above, to your body and brain it’s all the same.
Our bodies have one stress response: hypothalamic gland tells the pituitary gland we’re in trouble. Pituitary gland tells the adrenals to produce and release stress hormones. The sympathetic nervous system is activated. This is a normal, healthy process. It’s just when
this loop is on heavy rotation that issues can occur.
I could tell you all about the age-old solutions to stress we’ve all heard before. The fact of the matter is, I hope you take some of those on board too – more sleep (or more effective sleep), a little bit of exercise, meditation / breathing techniques, simple pleasures like reading or less screen time, earthing / grounding, hydration and less caffeine (I really had to force myself to type that last one).
I want to arm you with a couple of simple stress-management exercises that you probably think you already know about too, which often get categorised as ‘To-Do lists’.
To-do lists are so 2009. If you want to manage stress effectively, re-wire your brain and engage neuroplasticity, then what you need is a ‘To-Be’ list.
- Prioritise: When you want to have everything under control, bear in mind that not everything is possible at the same time. We have limited time resources, especially if we have to do it alone. So prioritise that shizz. Write down a list of to-bes then schedule when you are going to make them happen.
- Take Action: Instead of worrying about what needs to happen, decide what is important then take action. Don’t keep thinking about it. Excessive reflection with worry kills the action. Take advantage of the energy and direct it towards an action to achieve what is important.
So there you have it – make stress simple and make it go away.
And seriously, just coz I’ve learned to deal with stress and rarely experience it, I also understand how sucky and challenging it can be.