Stress is the “psychological, physiological and behavioral response by an individual when they perceive a lack of equilibrium between the demands placed upon them and their ability to meet those demands, which, over a period of time, leads to ill-health” (Palmer, 1989).
You can be eating the best, healthiest foods in the world, chugging down green juices and broth all day long, but if you are chowing down on a big slice of stress every day, you are at best slowing down your gut healing, and at worst, sabotaging your efforts.
Have you ever experienced a slow acceptance of the pressures around you, until everything is “just too much” and you can barely cope?
Meditation, yoga and exercise are some of the popular examples of stress management. With a wide range of difference approaches and methods, we can ensure that there is something that works for everyone.
We don’t aim to completely remove stress in our life. That is unrealistic. Stress is an unavoidable human response that we experience from time to time – and it’s not all bad either.
However, we can definitely benefit from recognizing our stress and managing it effectively.
Symptoms of stress
Everybody is different, but some common symptoms include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Stomach pain
- Teeth grinding
- Panic attacks
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sweaty hands or feet
- Excessive sleeping
- Social isolation
- Feeling overwhelmed
- and obsessive or compulsive behaviors.
STRESS – PROS
Stress originally acts as our protective mechanism that warns us of danger, a natural reaction that tells us when to run, what is now called as the “fight or flight” response. When your ancestors spotted a saber-toothed cat and ran from it, stress saved their life.
Stress has always been a part of our evolutionary drive because of its helpfulness in survival. When used at the right situation, stress increases our awareness and enhance physical performance in short bursts.
STRESS – CONS
Chronic Stress = Chronic Malnutrition = Immune System Depletion
Recurring exposure to “fight or flight” response is proven to cause long-lasting psychological and physical health issues, including but not limited to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, anxiety and depression.
Chronically high cortisol levels, suppressed secretory IgA (your gut’s immune system), and decreased oxygen to your gut are all ways that stress can damage your gut.
STRESS VS. BURNOUT
Stress is unavoidable. Burnout is not.
Burnout is the collection of extreme stressors over time, which results in unmanageable stress levels.
Today, the word has changed. The term “burnout” is now more broadly referred to as the result of excessive stress on any individual, no matter their occupation.
When we get to the point of no longer being able to cope, we are “burned out,” like a candle.
7 STRESS MANAGEMENT TIPS
1. Know your stress
How do you stress? Again, everybody is different. By knowing what stress is like for you, you can be better prepared, and know which stress management technique works for you.
2. Detect your stress sources
What makes you stressed? Work, family, change or any of the other potential thousand triggers.
3. Recognize stress signals
It is essential to be aware of your individual stress symptoms. Low tolerance, headaches, stomach pains or a combination from the above mentioned ‘Symptoms of stress’.
4. Identify your stress strategies
What is your usual technique for calming down? These can be learned over years and sometimes aren’t the healthy option. For example, some people cope with stress by self-medicating with alcohol or overeating.
5. Healthy stress management strategies
Stress strategies may not always be good or healthy. It’s good to be mindful so you can change them out for a healthy option. Studies suggest that switching out one behavior at a time is most effective in creating positive change.
6. Self-care is a priority
When we make time for ourselves, we put our well-being before others. This can feel selfish to start, but we need to help ourselves first before we can help others.
The simplest things that promote well-being, such as enough sleep, food, downtime, and exercise are often the ones overlooked.
Self-care is group-care.
7. Ask for support when needed
If you are feeling overwhelmed, reach out to a friend or family member you can talk to. Speaking with a healthcare professional can also reduce stress and help us learn healthier coping strategies.
We need to take responsibility for our mental and emotional self-care! Take time out to heal.