What is Stress and how can we manage it?

It’s great that we can now talk openly about stress, and how we’re feeling, it’s been a taboo subject for far too long. When you think about your day, ask yourself how often do you say ‘I’m stressed’? 

You see, we are now pretty open about talking and sharing our state of being, but do we really understand what stress actually is? I was joined last week in our live session by Deanne Walsh, who took our community through what stress is and some simple tools to help you manage and reduce the effects it has on your life. Here’s a little recap of some of the key points. 

When we feel stress, it is actually our bodies way of coping with pressure, a response often triggered by things we either don’t understand, can’t control, or are new to us. Our bodies are super clever and when we feel a threat it responds in a fight/flight mode and is looking for ways to keep us safe. 

There is a chemical response to enable us to survive the threats around us, things like producing adrenaline, additional glucose, widening of the airways to take in more oxygen etc. Here’s the important part though, we are only really meant to be in this state for 30 mins MAX before finding a safe place to calm and reset. 

These responses change how our body works, and if there’s no release then other parts of the body will feel the impacts – carrying additional weight for too much glucose, digestion problems, no clear vision, sleeping issues, all these physical symptoms are a result of remaining in a stressed state for too long. 

Our modern-day life can create a heightened state of stress, those difficult calls, unexpected last-minute meetings you aren’t prepared for, live speaking. Some of which you may enjoy, but they create a perceived threat to our bodies. 

Living in this constant cycle can have huge effects on our bodies, the main one being our cardio system meaning we are more prone to heart attacks, stroke and also a potential link to cancer (ongoing studies to prove the link).

So, you can see why it’s so important we learn to recognise the signs and try to give our bodies a rest. 

How can you do this? 

The main causes of stress tend to centre around work, money, relationships, and family, all the things we care about the most. Even the good things can cause us stress, like going on holiday there’s always lots to consider beforehand. Starting is easy, look at the stresses in your life, and how you deal with them. If you have a better understanding of that you can start to look at ways to prevent it building up – this is something we get better with over time. 

Perhaps, ask your self these questions: 

Do I have to do the activity? 

Can I change how I do it? 

Can I ask for help, or delegate the task? 

Can I do it in a different way or time? 

This exercise can give you a better chance at proactively managing your stress levels and prevent them from growing into something bigger than they should. 

Above all it’s important to remember we all have stresses in life, the good and the bad and when you do feel the pinch from time to time, be kinder to yourself.