Stress (aka “fight or flight” or sympathetic state) is an evolutionary response to situations deemed harmful or dangerous which involves changes in mental, emotional and hormonal processes.
Short bouts of stress in response to a posed threat or challenge is both healthy and natural. Stress can act to improve performance by arousing greater mental and physical capabilities. At the right levels and managed properly, stress can be your friend.
Distress (Bad stress)
Levels of stress can spiral out of control or become unbalanced to rest and recovery. When experiencing high demands, stimulus or pressures, the stress response can become sensitized and trigger too often or in situations which aren’t favorable. Prolonged or excessive exposure to stress can have a significant impact on overall health and performance. Forming a healthy relationship with stress is dictated by how you can manage and perceive it. A mastery over stress using your mind can unleash your potential and maximize both mental and physical capacity.
- Remove unwanted or unnecessary stressors Is there something in your life causing excessive stress that you have control to change? Can you remove these stressors without negatively affecting the well-being of yourself or others? Take time to reflect and make a list of things that don’t serve you in a positive way. If you are finding this to be a difficult task, confide in someone you trust OR move on and put your efforts towards something more tangible or within your control…
- Address behaviours that are contributing to stress. Are you easily distracted? Do you lack organization in your life or procrastinate regularly? Do you have a short fuse? These and many other common human behaviors can contribute to stress and hold you back from achieving higher potential. Be aware of them and work towards addressing these behaviors. Once you make the commitment, there are many resources and strategies available to you. You can’t force change on others but you can always change yourself.
- Utilize supportive resources. Often it’s neither efficient or effective to face stress alone, especially when it becomes persistent. Breakdown the walls which cause you to internalize your struggles or feel insecure. Friends, family, support staff, health professionals, and online resources are all available to help you. Talk with someone you trust and that has your best interest in mind. Often just sharing your experience or views will melt stress away and/or give you insight into how to best handle the situation.
- Build Mental Fortitude. It’s impossible to completely control your external environment and all incoming stressful or negative stimuli. Instead of focusing on the external environment, a more successful strategy is to focus on yourself. First, accept negative stress as a part of life and then learn how to better perceive any incoming stressors. Don’t look at stress as something that’s intimidating or harmful, look at it as a healthy challenge that brings out your best. Without stress and challenges you faced in your past, you wouldn’t be where you are today. Work towards building an indestructible mental fortress that allows you to face all inevitable and unexpected challenges with confidence and poise. Based on the above recommendations, your own ideas/research, and any professional advice - what is your strategy to improve stress management?
Keller, A. et al.Does the perception that stress affects health matter? The associationwithhealth and mortality. Health Psychol. 2012September ;31(5): 677–684.doi:10.1037/a0026743 http://appc.ca/beliefs-stress-and-health/ https://explorable.com/how-does-stress-affect-performance
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