April, a month all about raising awareness of what effects stress has on people and their everyday wellbeing, as well as what we can do to combat it.
More than ever throughout this time of lockdown, self-isolation and general uncertainty, if ever there was a good time to reflect on what causes us to feel stressed along with tips and
techniques to overcome stress. In fact, the whole lockdown, self-isolation and general uncertainty is in itself a stressful situation!
However, let’s start with
a positive - stress is not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing as without it, humankind would not have survived. But like with everything moderation is the key word where stress is concerned!
It is primarily a physical response when we automatically go into a ‘fight or flight’ mode and by doing so release a complex mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine in preparation.
Through the release of these hormones and chemicals you gain a rush of energy, your heart pounds faster, your breathing speeds up and your focus is sharpened. However, the ability
to think straight is marred as your blood flow is only going to the most important muscles needed to fight or flee and this state can become a hindrance. If we remain in a state of stress for long periods, that’s when it can be detrimental to our
In fight mode, stress makes us feel agitated and sometimes aggressive towards others, which can be seen both as strong in warning others off but also as negative.
However, the opposite can occur, and signs of the flight mode can be seen where we do the opposite and we remove ourselves from the situation instead of tackling it.
a function that kicks in and can potentially save lives if we find ourselves in dangerous surroundings.
Another thing that can happen is we just freeze, and the energy mobilized
by the perceived threat gets “locked” into the nervous system. Sometimes this is revealed by our breathing and both holding our breath and shallow breathing are both forms of the freeze reaction with deep sighing happening for the body to
catch up on its oxygen intake.
Today, stressful events fall into one of these three key categories:
- Critical – This relates to short-term events which do not last long but if traumatic, they still can have a lasting impact on us.
Stress - Situations which are also short-term but which we find ourselves in regularly, for example recurring stressful experiences when at work.
- Ongoing stresses which last into the long-term. These could include relationship stress or stress brought on through an illness.
In order to tackle stress,
we need to identify the stressors and look at the measures we can take to stamp out stress!