Stress is a common attribute in our daily working lives but generally, most of the documentation regarding stress is negative. Stress is linked to health problems including high blood pressure, ulcers, insomnia, and anxiety. If we manage stress effectively, we can live well and be the best possible version of ourselves.
Back in the days of caveman, the stress response was part of the survival instinct of fight or flight. When face to face with a hairy mammoth or saber toothed tiger, the stress response triggers, releasing a massive surge of adrenaline and cortisol. This leads to an increase in heart rate and blood flow to the muscles by up to 400 hundred percent. These adrenal and cortisol surges prepares the body to flee, or stand up and defend, often for survival.
In modern corporate society, humans have evolved but our stress response remains the same. When the stress response is working to our advantage, it provides drive and motivation. Stress also keeps us focused, alert and energized. The stress response can bring out the best in people as they realise they can do what they set out to do, with pleasing results.
These response are important when we need to finish projects, meet deadlines, or study for exams. It fuels ambition and the want to succeed, and in emergency situations can even save lives. The stress response is the reason behind the extraordinary strength we possess to defend ourselves in times of danger (similar in caveman times). And it is also the cause as to why we feel no pain after serious shock or trauma.
We come across stressful situations everyday in the modern world. High pressure jobs, family difficulties, and the death of a loved one can elevate the stress response to chronically elevated levels. This prolonged stress wears down every facet of our bodies which may cause ill health, both mentally and physically. It is estimated that of all visits to a doctor’s surgery, up to 90% of patients’ complaints have components related to chronic stress.
It is imperative we learn how to diminish and manage stress effectively for the long term. There are numerous ways we can manage stress in our modern daily lives.
How to Manage Stress
The most obvious way to manage stress is simply to remove or eliminate the stress triggers from our lives. However it’s rarely that simple and often difficult to remove ourselves from a stressful job, deadlines, family trouble or traffic jams.
Rather than change the things we cannot, we can alter the way we deal with them.
One of the easiest ways to quickly reduce stress is with simple breathing techniques. Deep breathing triggers the relaxation response and slows down a rapid heart rate, pulse rate, and sensory overload. Simple, in through the nose, out through the mouth, big, slow breaths has an instant, calming effect throughout the whole body.
Another fabulous way to trigger the relaxation response is with massage. Corporate massage is an ideal program for any organisation big or small. Stress, tension and pain is effectively massaged away with short, 15 minute treatments per person. Yoga and meditation are other effective relaxation techniques forcing the body to slow down and relax.
A healthy body creates a healthy mind and vice versa. Healthy eating habits are also a very important facet in creating a physically and mentally healthy body. Healthy eating provides optimal fuel required for daily activity and if we feel better, we are more motivated and enthusiastic, ready to tackle work constraints with reserves for fun and play.
As the saying goes, sleep promotes sleep. An active mind that doesn’t ‘switch off’ during rest, means quality sleep cannot be achieved. Surviving on no sleep or very little is difficult. Ask any new mum what sleep deprivation is like and they will tell you it’s impossible to function well. By allowing the body to relax and completely switch off, sleep should come naturally and easily. When asleep, the body has a chance to recover and wake refreshed and ready for the following day’s challenges.
Exercising, sweating and getting the blood pumping are also great ways to release stress and tension. During exercise, endorphins are released. Endorphins are often referred to as the feel good hormone, contributing to an overall feeling of wellbeing.
The most important aspect of managing stress is taking control of our lives and managing everything effectively. Balance is the key and as it’s often difficult or impossible to moderate our crazy busy lives but managing and controlling our triggers and stressors and putting everything into perspective is something we can control.
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