Stress and Stress Management: How to Deal With Stress

Stress management is a very important thing to learn. Being under constant stress is a huge health risk. The list of stress related illnesses is long and deadly serious: heart disease, migraines, sleep disorders, asthma, depression and anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer Disease. Prolonged stress can also cause less serious problems, such as headaches, neck pain, back pain and muscle tension. Learning about stress management will lead to stress reduction and in turn, reduce your health risks.

Stress is part of your body’s way of protecting itself from danger. Stress is a component of your “fight-or-flight reaction” that was once necessary to keep early man safe from predators. While stress is a great way to get you running away as fast as you can from a hungry tiger, constant stress is a terrible way to run your life. Without effective stress management, you can stay in “fight-or-flight” mode for long periods of time — with awful consequences.

Stress begins when you experience an event that your brain recognizes as “dangerous” in some way. “Dangerous” could simply be something unpleasant or that makes you uncomfortable — something that you want to be different. Your brain responds to the “dangerous” situation by initiating a stress reaction. You feel the signals as stress.

Your hypothalamus reacts first by telling your adrenal glands to get working. Your adrenal glands receive the message and immediately release a surge of stress-causing hormones. Adrenaline and cortisol lead this surge and rush to your aid.

These stress hormones go to work preparing your body for an attack. Your heart rate and blood pressure go up, giving you more energy. Sugars pour into your bloodstream. The sugars give you energy and make sure you are ready to repair any damage you may suffer.

Next, your body begins stress induced shutdowns to body systems you don’t need in battle. These systems include your digestive system, growth and development, your reproductive system and your immune system.

To make absolutely sure that the dangerous situation has your full attention, your stress hormones spread stress to your emotions and spur them into action. Since your body thinks you are about to enter a fight for your life, your stress hormones cause real fear and anxiety.

You can see where this is going. Your body is getting all stressed out and is taking you along with it. The stressor that caused this reaction in your body usually isn’t life threatening at all, but your body doesn’t know that. Here in Grass Valley and Nevada City, we rarely encounter much in the way of life threatening danger.

In today’s world, stressors are less threatening and more plentiful. Your stress response doesn’t get a chance to go full cycle and get back to calm. You are bombarded with stressful situations each and every day. Constant stress, without stress management and stress reduction, can disrupt almost all of your body’s systems and processes.

Since you experience stress throughout your entire body, symptoms of stress can show anywhere. Stress can cause problems with recurring rashes. Without stress management, it can lead to heart attack. Many other problems caused by stress can invade your life, if you don’t manage stress. The most common stress symptoms are insomnia and other sleep problems, digestive problems, weight gain, getting sick often, memory problems, teeth grinding, muscle tension, depression and anxiety. Avoiding these stress symptoms requires stress management coping skills.

Stress will never go away completely. You need stress to survive. Stress keeps you safe and alert in dangerous situations. You don’t want to end all stress. You just want stress reduction. Stress keeps you moving forward in your life and gives you motivation. Stress gets you up off the couch and out into the world, to help you avoid depression. Stress improves your productivity and increases your enjoyment of peak performance. When your stress is working for you, it doesn’t feel like stress. You feel stress-free! Learn to love your stress. Give stress credit for helping you in your life. Learn to balance stress with relaxation – – stress management.

Create some stress management techniques for yourself and learn how to reduce stress. Here are a few suggestions for stress management to get you started:

  • Eat well.
  • Loose weight.
  • Learn to meditate.
  • Schedule regular time to enjoy your friends and family.
  • Laugh.
  • Schedule time for fun.
  • Move your body.
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Treat yourself to a massage.
  • Ask for help when you need it.
  • Start a daily journal.
  • Take a deep breath from time to time throughout your day.

Stress and stress management must go hand in hand. When you ignore stress, you invite stress related illness. Your stress management techniques will help you deal with stress and reduce stress symptoms.

Stress reactions can be difficult to change no matter how many stress management techniques you try. Studies using brain scans show that stress makes changes in your brain. Brain scans indicate neurofeedback helps to reduce excess brain activity caused by stress. Neurofeedback can help you break your stress patterns. It calms your central nervous system and trains it to react differently. If you are stuck in a stress cycle and need help getting out, give me a call. Your payoff from stress management will be a longer, happier, healthier, stress-free life!