Whenever you feel overwhelmed and up against the wall, do you get the old familiar stress headache or stress backache which you get as a stress response to a stressful situation? Before you let yourself get all stressed out, take time to think about what type of stress you’re feeling.
According to psychologists there are two types of stress: Eustress and Stress. These two types of stress are as different as two sides of the same coin. The one type of stress is good for you and the other type of stress is harmful to your body.
The first type of stress, the good type of stress is eustress. It keeps you excited about life. Eustress is basically a desirable form of stress which is healthful and gives a feeling of contentment.
So how do you identify eustress? Here are some examples:
1. Thrill experienced while watching a horror movie
2. Excitement of winning a race
3. Accomplishing a challenge
4. Joy experienced on a roller-coaster ride
5. Happiness felt on the birth of a baby
6. Excitement while getting wedded
7. A man’s shaking hand as he produces an engagement ring
8. Buying a new car and many more
The other type of stress is Stress, which on the other hand, is anxiety, fear, frustration and an overcoming sense of dread. Burnout stress happens as an effect of stress from working too long under a stressful environment. Continual exposure to stressful situations and people whose demands become stressful to you results in the negative type of stress.
There’s nothing useful about stress. After all, stress and heart disease are related. Stress can be a cause for a heart attack, stroke or an emotional breakdown. Have you ever said ‘stress does you good?’ or ‘I work better under stress?’ Then you haven’t asked your immune system how it feels to be stressed out.
Stress is also referred to as distress, as stress anxiety, as severe strain or as mental suffering resulting from exhaustion or an accident.
Some of the events that lead to distress are:
1. Emotional stress due to death of loved ones
2. Work related stress
3. Discontent in relationships
4. Financial stress tension
5. Unfulfilled desires
Living under stressful conditions for long periods of time has damaging effects to your immune system. Have you ever noticed how you’re more inclined to catch a cold whenever you feel extreme stress due to being overworked than when you aren’t stressed out?
That’s a perfect example of how the immune system can’t deal with your stressful load and have enough left over to fight a stress illness.
Manage stress! Learn to stop and analyze your stress. One effective stress coping technique is to write in a journal. Reflect and write down your answer to these stress related questions:
1. What causes you to feel stress?
2. Where are you when you feel the most stress?
3. Who is with you when you’re feeling the stress tension?
4. What were you doing when you were feeling stressed?
5. Has anything changed recently in this situation that might possibly be the cause of stress?
By seeing your stress patterns, you can look at ways to change either your involvement with stress or your stress response. Is what you’re feeling really harmful stress? If it’s actually eustress, then you can change what you say from, “I’m so stressed out over the party” to “I’m so excited about this party!” It’s amazing how your body responds differently to each type of stress. Sometimes your reactions to stress are a choice.
A healthy marriage is good for a couple’s mental and physical health. In Western cultures like the US, more than 90 percent of people marry by age 50 however about 40 percent to 50 percent of married couples in the US end up in divorce. And one of the leading causes of divorce is financial stress. Actually some even claim that financial stress is the number one cause of divorce and divorce is also the number one reason for people filing bankruptcy. How exactly does financial stress affect a marriage?
Effect of Financial Stress in a Couple’s Sex Life and Love Life
All marriages are burdened with some sort of financial stress. Financial stress in a marriage can actually result in another type of stress known as chronic stress. Chronic stress happens when a married couple suffers from insufficient funds to cover debt over a long period of time and when married partners suffer from chronic stress for quite a long time this can diminish their sexual desire.
A lack of sexual desire between a married couple leads to a lack of intimacy in marriage which only increases their even more.
When a woman suffers from chronic stress, it can actually prevent her from achieving orgasm while chronic stress in men can cause temporary impotence.
Effect of Financial Stress to Fertility
Financial stress affects fertility because stress hormones affect the hypothalamus gland which produces reproductive hormones. When either partner suffers from infertility, it also increases stress in marriage as they feel the pressure and frustration of not having a baby even when they desire to have one. And when there’s a huge desire to have a child, they can increase their expenses as they seek medical treatment which results in more financial stress.
Financial Stress as a Reason for a Couple’s Argument
Married partners who are under a lot of financial stress can cause them to react angrily towards each other, using hurtful words and loud voices with the slightest provocation. And at times, people who are struggling with financial stress tend to drink alcohol more often, abuse drugs and/or smoke more. This unhealthy action only decreases a married couple’s available funds to pay incoming bills causing more financial stress. All of these stress coping behaviors tend to result in increased arguments between the married couple. They may blame each other for the financial problems, causing ongoing arguments and these conflicts provoke a chain reaction that results in a decrease in socializing together with friends and family. In short, financial stress can lead to two other type of stress called emotional stress and social stress.
Financial Stress and its Link to Health Problems
According to various stress studies, ongoing chronic stress in a marriage can increases each partner’s risk of serious health problems. Various stress studies confirm that stress and depression have a relation to each other as well as stress and heart disease and stress and obesity. The effects of chronic stress tend to sneak up on individuals and can cause a decrease in productivity at work, crying spells, increased fatigue, anxiety, and withdrawal from each other and friends. Severely high cortisol levels caused by chronic stress, according to the American Institute of Stress, can also result in higher incidence of miscarriage.
The health problems from chronic financial stress can be long-lasting, especially if exacerbated by unhealthy stress coping techniques like alcohol, drugs or nicotine. All of these health problems and financial worries usually result in couples spending less time together. This fact makes financial stress a leading cause of marital conflict and divorce.
Psychologist Hans Selye defines stress as a condition that refers to the internal reaction to environmental factors. Most people exhibit stress symptoms without even being aware that they are stressed or understanding the sources of the stress. If you want to effectively eliminate stress, then you have to take the first step of stress management which is to understand the sources of stress, also called stressors.
There are different stress factors for every individual and stress factors are also dependent on the social cultural conditions. There is what is considered as a normal or acceptable threshold for stressors and this is socially defined and may also depend on gender roles and expected behaviors. For example, culture dictates that men are not allowed to cry in public even though it is a stress reliever.
Stress is caused by environmental factors surrounding the individual. The body will release the adrenaline hormone as the first step towards preparing to take flight from the stressor. This will result in breakdown of glucose storage such as the glycogen and quick digestion of the food in the gut and the body must have adequate energy to power its flight.
Any situation that is deemed as not favorable for the survival of the human being will result in stress. Naturally, the body prefers not to be in any form of stress. Stress is how the body responds to the environment. The body will respond to the threats that it may detect through the five senses.
So what are the common sources of stress? Let us explore each source of stress.
Physical stressors result from internal physical stress symptoms which include pain, headache, excessive dieting, etc. Physical stressors can also result from external physical stress symptoms which include pollution, excessive noise, physical injury, fatigue, drug use, and excessive exercise.
Psychological stressors arise from time pressures or the unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves or allow to be placed on us by others, such as being perfect, knowing everything or suppression of feelings at all costs. A person who is under a lot of psychological stress can suffer from anxiety, depression, and/or substance abuse.
Emotional stressors are stress factors which can arise from relationship problems with parents, spouses, children, friends and non married couples. People in relationships who always argue can feel stressed out in trying to work out their differences or stressed out in trying to keep a relationship working. Sometimes, you can also become the source of your emotional stress as you try to set high expectations for yourself, experience fears, uncertainties and even just having a negative view of the world can be emotionally stressful.
Financial stressors are also common. People with cash shortage can feel stressed out specially when they are parents who are trying to send their kids to schools or students who need to find a part time job in order to be able to continue studying. Because the world is feeling a financial crunch, people feel even more stressed out in trying to scrunch up money to pay for all their needs and bills.
There is also what we call spiritual stressors which arise when basic spiritual values or beliefs are reformulated, called into question, disregarded, or when time constraints impede on spiritual growth or attendance at services. Neglect of spiritual needs contributes to higher levels of stress and impairment.
Social stressors are abundant and can arise in any context where interpersonal relationships exist, like school, work, church, and community. When demands at work or school become heavy, people tend to feel stressed and because attention and time are required to accomplish heavy workloads, there’s a possible loss of contact with friends and family which contributes to feelings of loneliness among busy people which in turn stresses them out even more. Social stress can also arise from continued forced contact with individuals with whom you may not share the same values or beliefs.
Academic stress arises with changes that a student must go through as he or she progresses through school especially in College. Students especially the freshmen and the seniors face not only competition but fear of failure as well.
Not a day in your life goes by without encountering a situation or event that may trigger stress and that’s okay. By identifying and understanding the sources of your stress, you learn to manage it better.
While some stress can be good for the body, some stress disorders can cause major health problems and some types of stress can even be life threatening. Stress is a natural function of the body but understanding the different types of stress can help you better understand how to deal with the stress you encounter in life.
Major Types of Stress
While stress may have many subcategories, the major types of stress can be broken down and categorized into four types of stress: Eustress, Hyperstress, Hypostress and Distress. Let us discuss each type of stress further.
Type of Stress #1: Eustress
Eustress is one of the helpful types of stress. But what is eustress exactly? Eustress is the type of stress you experience right before you have the need to exert physical force. Eustress prepares the muscles, heart, and mind for the strength needed for whatever it is that’s about to occur.
Eustress can also be applied to creative endeavours. When a person needs to have some extra energy or creativity, eustress kicks in to bring them the inspiration they need. An athlete will experience the strength that comes from eustress right before they play a big game or enter a big competition. Because of this type of stress, they immediately receive the strength that they need to perform.
When the body enters the fight or flight response, it will experience eustress. Eustress prepares the body to fight with or flee from an imposing danger. This type of stress will cause the blood to pump to the major muscle groups, and will increase the heart rate and blood pressure to increase. If the event or danger passes, the body will eventually return to its normal state.
Type of Stress #2: Distress
Distress is one of the negative types of stress. This is one of the types of stress that the mind and body undergoes when the normal routine is constantly adjusted and altered. This type of stress can actually be subcategorized into two types: acute stress and chronic stress.
Distress Type #1: Acute Stress
The first type of distress is acute stress. This type of stress comes immediately with a change of routine. It is an intense type of stress, but it passes quickly. Acute stress is the body’s way of getting a person to stand up and take inventory of what is going on, to make sure that everything is okay.
Distress Type #2: Chronic Stress
The second type of distress is chronic stress. Chronic stress will occur if there is a constant change of routine for week after week. Chronic stress affects the body for a long period of time. This is the type of stress experienced by someone who constantly faces moves or job changes.
Type of Stress #3: Hyperstress
Hyperstress is another negative type of stress which comes when a person is forced to undertake or undergo more than he or she can take. When you’re faced with a stressful job that overworks you, this causes hyperstress. A person who is experiencing hyperstress will often respond to even little stressors with huge emotional outbreaks. It is important for a person who thinks they might be experiencing hyperstress to take measures to reduce stress in their lives, because hyperstress can lead to serious emotional and physical repercussions.
Type of Stress #4: Hypostress
The final of the four types of stress is hypostress. Hypostress stands in direct opposite to the third type of stress: hyperstress. Hypostress is basically insufficient amount of stress. That is because hypostress is the type of stress experienced by a person who is constantly bored. Someone in an unchallenged job, such as a factory worker performing the same task over and over, will often experience hypostress. Hypostress effects are feelings of restlessness and a lack of inspiration.
Everywhere we turn, people seem to all be suffering from some type of financial stress. How can they not? Life has become more expensive nowadays what with the rise of consumerism.
Learn how to avoid the unnecessary worry that comes from financial stress and protect your children from sharing and feeling the family’s financial stress. Here are some steps you can do to protect your children from financial stress:
Financial Stress Control Step 1
The first and foremost important thing to remember is that financial stress is an adult issue. There is no need to burden your kids with money matters resulting in financial stress. Doing so will only cause emotional stress for them such as fear and insecurity.
Financial Stress Control Step 2
When times are tight, it’s best to tighten your belts to prevent yourself from suffering from financial stress. But next time your kid asks for something and you can’t afford it, tell them so. But choose your words carefully. Remember financial stress is hard enough to deal with. You don’t want to add emotional stress on your kids as well do you?
Financial Stress Control Step 3
Even when you’re under a lot of financial stress, avoid discussing money problems or arguing about spending, bills, overdue payments and such in front of your children. Doing so will only create unnecessary stress and even guilt on them.
Financial Stress Control Step 4
Saving money has taken on a new meaning. Conservation and going green are hot topics. So make use of these two money saving strategies. Teach your kids about learning to conserve water or turning off unused appliances. Teaching them to be conservative has two benefits: they help you out in reducing your financial stress problems and they help save the planet.
Financial Stress Control Step 5
Having financial stress doesn’t mean you can’t take your kids out shopping some times. Make your shopping interesting by going to consignment shops, thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets. You can find great items at a fraction of a cost! Plus, kids love scavenger hunts and you just might surprise yourself by finding out that you also enjoy bargain shopping!
Financial Stress Control Step 6
Being under financial stress can be an opportunity for more family time. You can protect your kids from being stressed out with the lack of money by making them focus on the positive aspects of having a bit less. Go hiking instead of going mall shopping. Bake your own pizza. Rent DVDs instead of going to a movie theatre.
Financial Stress Control Step 7
Change your perspective from needing more ‘stuff’ to knowing that you already have everything you need. Be grateful for and focus on what you do have. Not only will this significantly offer stress relief for you, but your kids will learn appreciation as well!
Financial Stress Control Step 8
Realize that financial patterns, as well as everything else in the universe, have an ebb and flow. We may be in the ‘ebb’ phase for awhile but it won’t be long before we get back into the ‘flow’.
If you and your family and friends are experiencing financial stress at the moment, know that this too, shall pass. Make the best of what you do have and appreciate being a part of the abundance in life. Adopting a positive attitude will maintain peace in your home and protect your children from financial stress and fear. Try making your two favorite words, “thank you.” An attitude of gratitude creates a major shift in your thinking and will get you back into the flow.
Stress can cause a number of physical stress symptoms and these physical stress symptoms can actually help to identify and timely address the problem. A correct diagnosis is the key to overcome stress.
It is believed that more than 50% of all visits to doctors are initially caused by stress. Many health care professionals consider stress as one of the fundamental reasons for illnesses such as cancer and heart attack.
Others have already proved that humans under stress are more vulnerable and not resistant to trivial diseases such as the simple flu. Numerous couples all around the world and especially Europe and USA are struggling in having their own babies because of stress. And because stress may accumulate slowly, it may be difficult to notice it and if not relieved it may seriously affect your overall health. Thus stress accumulates day by day and the physical stress effects may show up unnoticed by you.
Stress and Its Physical Effects on the Body’s Internal Systems
Stress and the Nervous System
Whenever we are stressed out, either physical stress or psychological stress, the body suddenly shifts its energy resources to combat stress, the perceived threat. When this happens, the sympathetic nervous system signals the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol in what is known as fight or flight response and these make the beat faster, raise blood pressure, change the digestive process and boost glucose levels in the bloodstream. Once the crisis passes though, the system usually returns to normal.
Stress and the Musculoskeletal System
Whenever stressed out, the muscles tense up and the muscle contractions that extend for periods of time can trigger tension headaches, migraines and various musculoskeletal conditions.
Stress and the Respiratory System
Whenever one feels stressed out, your breathing becomes harder, causing rapid breathing which can bring on the panic attacks in some people.
Stress and the Cardiovascular System
Acute stress, a type of stress that happens momentary due to being stuck in traffic for example can cause an increase in heart rate and stronger contractions of the heart muscle. Blood vessels that direct blood to the large muscles and to the heart dilate, increasing the amount of blood pumped to these parts of the body. Repeated episodes of stress can cause inflammation in the coronary arteries, thought to lead to heart attack.
Stress and the Endocrine System
Stress affects the adrenal glands which happens when the body feels stressed, sending brain signals from the hypothalamus which then causes the adrenal complex to produce cortisol and the adrenal modulla to produce epinephrine or what is sometimes called “stress hormones.”
Stress also affects the liver. This happens when cortisol and epinephrine are released, causing the liver to produce more glucose which would give you the necessary energy to fight or flight in an emergency.
Stress and the Gastrointestinal System
Stress affects the esophagus by prompting you to eat more or much less than you usually do when under stressed. If you eat more foods or increase your use of tobacco or alcohol whenever you are stressed out, you may experience heartburn or acid reflux.
Ever hear of ‘butterflies in your tummy’ expression? That’s stress. When you’re under a lot of stress, it can also cause nausea or pain in the stomach which can make you vomit under extreme stress.
Stress can also affect digestion and which nutrients your intestines absorb. It can also affect how quickly the food moves through your body. As a result of stress, you may have diarrhea or constipation.
Stress and the Reproductive System
Chronic stress in men can impair testosterone and sperm production, which can cause impotence. In women, stress cause absent or irregular menstrual cycles or more painful periods. Stress can also reduce sexual desire.
Stress and the Immune System
Under stress your body needs energy to run or fight which changes the body’s chemistry to suppress the immune system. So whenever we experience workplace stress or stress in school we feel ill.
Stress and its Other Physical Effects
There are also other physical effects of stress such as:
Numbness is a physical effect of stress wherein you can’t feel anything in a particular body part such as arms or legs.
Headaches might be caused by different reasons, one of them being chronic overwork and stress. In addition tensions and deep disappointments can also result in stress and terrible headaches.
Hot and Cold Waves are physical effects of stress wherein you feel hot and cold, irrelevant of what the temperature of the air is. Whenever you feel stressed out, you may first feel hot and immediately afterwords cold.
Sweating is another physical effect of stress wherein you sweat for no reason even if it is cold. Sweating caused by stress starts from palms and armpits and can show up on face and the whole body.
Most of the stated things above may be normal reactions to changes in the surrounding environment but they become stress signs – physical effects of stress if they manifest persistently in the course of time and we can’t restore completely to our normal physical condition.
Clutter is something we all have a little bit of here and there – at the house or at your office work area. Sometimes, our lives get a little bit too busy that we tend to take cleaning and organizing stuff for granted, putting it off and mentally promising to de-clutter once we get an open window of free time in our hands until over time, clutter starts to overtake our lives, causing emotional stress and mental stress. Just looking at the pile of mess inside your house or your work place and thinking about just how much of a mess the place is can stress you out! Because your house or your office is one big place of clutter, you tend to have trouble finding things as well like your money, your keys, maybe even your favourite shoes which can definitely be a stressful exercise!
And because stress is bad for one’s health, you need to eliminate all kinds of stress causing factors in your life like for instance clutter.
So here are some tips to de-stress by de-cluttering:
Stress busters Tip #1: Divide and Conquer – your stuff that is
Get four boxes and label each one: things to donate, things to throw away, things to keep and things to store. Go room by room and start picking up items and putting them in their proper box. Be honest! This is the only way you’ll ever get rid of the mess and become clutter stress free! Once that’s done, the next step to banishing stress is to have proper storage area for the stuff that you’re keeping.
Stress busters Tip #2: Create Beauty
De-cluttering and organizing your place is a great way to reduce stress. But you can further reduce stress by adding a few nice touches that can make your home the ideal haven for you to relax. This is a great way to get stress relief!
Stress busters Tip #3: Organize
Another way to eliminate stress by de-cluttering is through organization. Make sure to keep your loose changes in a coin bank. Hang your clean clothes in your closet and throw your dirty ones in the laundry. Have a place to keep your bills too! You’ll easily combat stress by knowing where to find your stuff whenever you need them!
Stress busters Tip #4: Pick a Schedule and Stick to It
Another stress relief tip: to prevent clutter from piling up. Make a commitment to schedule a certain time or day for de-cluttering to keep your clutter from invading your home and keeping stress caused by clutter at bay. Set aside 20 minutes each day to tackle one area of the house or you can set aside one day out of the week like the weekend to de-clutter and remove the mess in the house.
Stress busters Tip #5: Do your Laundry
A pile of dirty clothes can also be stressful to look at. Just thinking about the heavy load can be stressful! So make a commitment to also tackle the laundry that never seems to get done.
Stress busters Tip #6: Garbage
Part of your combat stress plan should be taking out the garbage. After all, the only way to get rid of your clutter related stress is to get your clutter out of the house! Set out garbage bags for your clutter. Use plastic bags from your grocery shopping. Throw away all the obvious garbage and recycle whenever possible.
Stress busters Tip #7: Donate
You the saying one man’s trash is someone else’s treasure? Well this is a great saying to remember by when you’re on a mission to eliminate stress caused by clutter. Donate your old stuff – stuff you no longer use or like. Not only is this a great way to combat stress, you’re also helping others out!
Stress busters Tip #8: Repeat
Of course the only way to permanently eliminate stress from your home or your office is to keep doing the stress busting tips given above, otherwise, clutter and stress will come to haunt you again!
Stress is everywhere and you may seem like there’s nothing you can do to stop stress. As the bills keep coming, the errands pile up and career and family responsibilities that are demanding, you start to feel your stress levels going up, up and the very feeling of being stressed out can add emotional stress on your already stressed out mind and body. The truth though is that you have a lot more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management.
Stress management is all about taking charge: of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal of stress management is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun – plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.
Identifying the sources of stress in your life is the first important step of stress management. Your true sources of stress aren’t always obvious, and it’s all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Example is workplace stress: Sure, you may know that you’re constantly worried about work deadlines. But maybe it’s your procrastination, rather than the actual job demands, that leads to deadline stress.
To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses. Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining stress, your stress level will remain outside your control.
Here are some stress management techniques for coping with stress:
Stress management techniques #1: Avoid unnecessary stress
Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. But there are a number of stressors which you can eliminate such as:
Learn how to say “no”. Taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress so know your limits and stick to them.
Avoid people who stress you out. If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or end the relationship entirely.
Take control of your environment. If the evening news stresses you out, turn the TV off. If traffic’s your source of stress, take a longer but less-traveled route.
Avoid hot-button topics. If you get upset over religion or politics, cross them off your conversation list so you don’t experience emotional stress.
Pare down your to-do list – Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks and drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely so you don’t feel stressed out.
Stress management techniques #2: Alter the situation
If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.
Stress management techniques #3: Adapt to the stressor
If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
Stress management techniques #4: Accept the things you can’t change
Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.
Stress management techniques #5: Make time for fun and relaxation
Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come.
Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.
Stress management techniques #6: Adopt a healthy lifestyle
You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health. Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, reduce your caffeine and sugar intake, avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs, and get enough sleep.
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The best and most natural stress relief to combat stress is relaxation. By knowing how to take a break, you can actually have a powerful antidote to eliminate stress. Stress relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and yoga can help you activate this stress relaxation response.
When practiced regularly, these stress relief activities can lead to a stress reduction in your everyday stress levels plus it will boost your feelings of joy and serenity. What’s more, by practicing these stress relief activities, it will also serve as protective quality by teaching you how to stay calm and collected in the face of life’s curveballs.
The Stress Relaxation Response
Nobody can avoid stress but you can learn to control stress by counteracting its negative effects. Learn to evoke the stress relaxation response, a state of deep rest that is the polar opposite of the stress response.
Stress response floods your body with chemicals that prepare you for “fight or flight” but while the stress response is helpful in true emergency situations where you must be alert, it definitely gets your body stressed out when always activated.
The stress relaxation response brings your system back into balance: deepening your breathing, reducing stress hormones, slowing down your heart rate and blood pressure, and relaxing your muscles.
Research also shows that the stress relaxation response increases energy and focus, combats stress illness, relieves aches and pains, heightens problem-solving abilities, and boosts motivation and productivity. And with a little practice, you can reap these benefits of stress relaxation response.
Stress Relaxation Exercises
There are a variety of stress relaxation techniques that can help you achieve the stress relaxation response. Try these stress relaxation exercises:
Deep breathing for stress relief
Deep breathing is the cornerstone of many other stress relaxation practices. It is a simple, yet powerful stress relaxation technique. It’s easy to learn and it can be practiced almost anywhere. It can also provide a quick way to get your stress levels in check.
Progressive muscle relaxation for stress relief
Progressive muscle relaxation is another effective and widely used strategy for stress relief. It involves a two-step process in which you systematically tense and relax different muscle groups in the body.
Practice progressive muscle relaxation regularly. This stress relaxation technique gives you an intimate familiarity with what stress tension feel like in different parts of the body. This awareness helps you spot and counteract the first signs of the muscular stress tensions.
For additional level of stress relief, you can combine deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
Mindfulness meditation for stress relief
Meditation is also a particularly effective stress reducer. With regular practice, mindfulness meditation actually changes the brain. It strengthens the areas associated with joy and relaxation, and weakens those involved in negativity and stress.
Guided imagery for stress relief
Visualization used as a stress relaxation technique, is a variation on traditional meditation that can help relieve stress. Guided imagery involves imagining a scene in which you feel at peace, free to let go of all stress tension and stress anxiety. Choose whatever setting is most calming to you.
You can do this stress relaxation exercise on your own, with a therapist’s help, or by using an audio recording.
Yoga for stress relief
Yoga is an excellent stress relief exercise. This stress relaxation exercise involves a series of both moving and stationary poses, combined with deep breathing. The physical and mental benefits of yoga provide a natural counterbalance to stress, and strengthen the stress relaxation response in your daily life.
Tai chi for stress relief
Tai chi is a stress relaxation exercise done through self-paced, non-competitive series of slow, flowing body movements. These movements emphasize concentration, relaxation, and the conscious circulation of vital energy throughout the body. Tai chi is primarily practiced as a way of calming the mind, conditioning the body, and reducing stress.
Massage therapy for stress relief
Getting a massage provides deep relaxation, and as the muscles in your body relax, so does your stressed out mind. There are many simple self-massage techniques you can use to relax and release stress.
Massage can be a great stress therapy and the best way to get stress relief from massage is by getting it from a professional massage therapist. Try types like Swedish or Shiatsu, which promote overall relaxation and stress relief.
According to stress studies, people with medical conditions such as heart disease, mental illness or other chronic diseases are the most vulnerable to negative consequences of stress but even healthy people are also at risk.
Relation of stress and heart disease has been widely studied and stress researchers say that mental stress increases the body’s demand for oxygen by raising blood pressure and heart rate. Mental stress can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke or even death for people who already suffer from heart disease. According to David S. Krantz, PhD, stress can also act as a trigger for heart attack or stroke in people with undiagnosed heart disease. He says that people who may not be aware that they’re in the early stages of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries and are stressed out can set off dangerous plaque ruptures which can lead to potentially life-threatening events like heart attacks or strokes.
Steven Tovian, PhD, director of health psychology at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare in Evanston, Ill., says that stress also directly affects a part of the nervous system that controls the glands, heart, digestive system, respiratory system, and skin. That means any pre-existing medical condition that is influenced by a nervous system response such as chronic pain, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), digestive disorders, or headaches is likely to become exacerbated by stress when the already overworked system becomes overloaded by additional stress. In addition, Tovian says anyone with anyone who suffers from a history of mental illness, such as depression and anxiety, is also at risk for a worsening of symptoms at times of extreme stress. The truth is that you don’t have to be ill to suffer from the effects of stress on your physical as well as mental health. Stress can also make healthy people more vulnerable to sickness by weakening the immune system and making it easier to catch a cold or other contagious illness.
So how do you combat stress and prevent further sickness? Here are some ways to eliminate stress:
Stress Reduction Techniques #1: Attitude Is Everything
Suzanne Segerstrom, PhD, says what happens is that certain components of the immune system become less effective at fighting off illness, especially those caused by viruses, when exposed to stress over days or weeks. But she says attitude plays a critical role in preventing sickness caused by stress which causes additional stress.
So keep a positive attitude and a balanced perspective on events going on in the world as well as closer to home to combat stress because people who focus only on negative information to the exclusion of more positive information will perceive more stress and, therefore, suffer more serious consequences in their mental and physical health.
Stress Reduction Techniques#2: Attempt to Maintain a Normal Routine
Sticking to a schedule can help you feel more in control of your life even when the circumstances around you are chaotic which in turn can offer stress relief.
Stress Reduction Techniques #3: Surround Yourself with Friends and Loved Ones
Make and keep connections with friends, family, clergy, and other confidants because maintaining a strong social support network can act as a buffer against stress.
Stress Reduction Techniques #4: Pursue Your Passions
Another good way to combat stress and prevent yourself from getting sick is by learning how to appreciate the good things in your life. Make time for things that you enjoy, whatever that may be, such as playing with your children or pets, exercise, reading a book, etc.
Stress Reduction Techniques #5: Learn to Relax
Give yourself a break and stay away from things that rile you in times of stress. Limit contact with people or things that cause stress, especially around bedtime.
Stress Reduction Techniques #6: Participate in a volunteer activity.
Assisting others in a time of need can not only offer stress relief but it can also be empowering. So offer your services to those in need.
Stress Reduction Techniques #7: Take care of yourself.
Lastly, it’s important that you know how to take care of yourself. Don’t let stress affect your diet, sleep schedule, or exercise habits. This is the best way to eliminate stress and prevent sickness.