Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you feel threatened, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which rouse the body for emergency action. Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus. This is known as the “fight or flight” or mobilization stress response and is your body’s way of protecting you.
Many of us are so used to being overloaded with stress that we don’t even notice it anymore. Feeling stressed feels normal. But awareness of what you’re feeling, physically and emotionally, can have a profound effect on both your stress tolerance and how you go about reducing stress. Having the emotional awareness to recognize when you’re stressed and then being able to calm and soothe yourself can increase your tolerance to stress and help you bounce back from adversity. It’s a skill that can be learned.
Get moving – Activities that require moving both your arms and your legs are particularly effective at managing stress.
Connect to others – A brief exchange of kind words or a friendly look from another human being can help calm and soothe your nervous system.
Set aside time to relax – Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response.
Eat a healthy diet – Re-examine your existing diet and experiment with new ways of eating that promote mental health.
Get some rest – Whether you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, there are plenty of ways to improve your sleep so you feel less stressed and more productive and emotionally balanced.
Written by LaVella Head