If you are looking for a better life and/or striving to succeed there is a good chance you have been stressed. I wonder if you know what is is and how it can affect you. I learned all about it the wrong way. I hope this post will help you learn about stress in a much better way.
What is it?
Basically stress is a reaction in the body when it is feels threatened ,realistic or not. It activates when we need to defend ourselves or run away from danger. We sometimes call this the “fight or flight” response. The body perceives the threat and floods the body with chemicals including cortisol and adrenaline to increase strength, speed, sharpen senses and increase stamina. It tightens muscles increases your heart rate and gets ready. But this isn’t all it also shuts down parts of your body that are not needed for this response, your digestive and immune system.
Why is it good?
Stress can keep you focussed on a task. Give you energy when you need it. Keep you alert. It increases your reaction speeds and can save your life eg. applying the break before you crash. Some people use stress to keep themselves motivated on a single task.
Why is it bad?
Short term it shuts down your ability to think and feel, it gears your body to react and live in the first way it can. This is regardless of whether it is the best option and regardless of feelings.
Medium term you may start to display cognitive, emotional and physical symptoms of stress. The first two because thought and emotion are reduced/stopped by the stress reaction and the third because of the increases imposed by it.
- poor judgement and worrying
- inability to concentrate
- memory problems
- can’t see the “big picture”
- loss of sex drive
- rapid heartbeat or chest pains
- catching colds often
- digestive problems
- aches and pains
- short temper
- cannot relax
- feeling overwhelmed
- moodiness, unhappiness or depression
- feeling of isolation and loneliness
Do you recognise any of these in your life? If you see more than four you could be suffering from stress, if you recognise this many and see them as normal and you feel extra stress at times you may have been stressed for a long time and now don’t even believe you have a problem at all. I was one of the latter group of people and it was affecting a lot of my life. I wrote about this before in this blog, but I had symptoms from all three catagories and I thought that was just how it was and that I could try and “fix” the worst things as I needed too. For example I kept going for physio to fix aches and pains, got medication and “got on with it”.
So what can you do about it?
Well the title is the biggest clue. Take some time off. OK you can’t go on holiday all the time but you can try and plan time to relax. Don’t have time? Check out my time management post. I have just come back from a day off and a night away, I took time off working on my websites and working as a teacher and DJ for 36 hours. (I’ve now got to catch up – but I have set time for that too) I spent time with with my wife and went to a spa (physical relaxation), went for a pub lunch in a new place a few miles away and then went to a different city for a hotel overnight stay (away from my working situation). Forced myself to relax. I had a great time and it was totally worth it! I would also advise that you take one day a week for yourself, spend time with friends and family, do things you enjoy, get away, put down your phone and laptop and chill out.
Other things you can do
eat a healthy diet – you want to reduce stimulants such as caffeine, sugar, nicotine and alcohol. This will help reduce your rapid heart rate. You also want to eat “clean foods” that aren’t heavily processed as these are harder to digest. Your digestive system has been affected by stress and this will help you recover.
get plenty of sleep – when you sleep your body and your mind have a chance to recover. Your tense muscles relax and heal and your brain processes the information from the day so you can think better.
mindset – if you have a positive growth mindset (read more) you can face problems better.
There is a lot more information on line with ways to deal with stress. These are just a few of the things that I found out and that helped me and I hope can help you.
Take time off and you will succeed faster. You could also subscribe to my newsletter for more information and tips.