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First Step to Managing Stress is Awareness

First Step to Managing Stress is Awareness

The Oxford Dictionary defines stress as, "A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances." What does this mean? Does stress always result in undesirable outcomes? In this blog, we will explore the meaning of stress, and how you can identify and manage it. The first step is to understand what stress is.Stress is the body's reaction to any change in circumstance that needs a response. Depending on the situation your body may give a physical, mental or emotional response. It's a normal bodily function and is nearly impossible to avoid as it can stem from your environment, body or thoughts.

Is Stress Bad? Stress can be good. In some way stress was the reason for our survival as a race. Have you ever been in a situation where you had to make an important decision, and all you can think about is the butterflies in your stomach? Your heart races as you think of the pros and cons to your situation. This anxious feeling is part of your fight-or-flight response; a psychological reaction following a biochemical response where the brain releases adrenaline and cortisol to cope. Stress can be motivating; for example, a college student with zero stress could probably fail. The stress of meeting deadlines pushes them to focus more. Our society has been structured to thrive on stress but in moderation.

Separating Good from Bad Stress
There are many different kinds of stressors, some are positive, while others are negative. Mild stressors are slightly stressful situations such as meeting deadlines or worrying if your kids are eating healthy from the school cafeteria. These stressors act as motivators and get you to take action. Under mild stress, you would find the motivation to focus on your tasks without distraction so that you can meet your deadline, or find healthy nutritional supplements to incorporate into your child's meal plan.
The bad or harmful kinds of stressors usually stem from emotional turmoil and have serious repercussions. Examples of these are insecurities or caring for an ill loved one.  These situations can be extremely taxing on your wellbeing and can bring about anxiety and lead to depression. Prolonged reaction to these kinds of stressors can cause chronic stress and can be harmful to your health.

Understanding Chronic Stress
Chronic stress is a response to long-term emotional pressure where the person feels like they have no control. It is a state where the endocrine system releases more corticosteroids than usual to cope with stress. Chronic stress leads to depression, anxiety, mood swings, isolation, and the constant feeling of being overwhelmed. It is an unpleasant state of mind and takes a toll on you physically. Patients who suffer from chronic stress experience restlessness, loss of appetite, fatigue, and lack general wellness.

How Do You Manage Stress?
When you focus on your breathing, every other thought or distraction should slowly melt away in the background. Ask yourself questions like; is there moisture in my breath? Is the left nostril more dominant than the right? Is my exhalation longer than my inhalation? Remember, the by-product of a good exhalation is a quiet mind! In these moments of neutrality, you will find clarity and the strength to face your problems instead of being consumed by them.
Relieve your stress by channeling it into more productive outlets such as a sport. If you're more artistic than athletic, play an instrument or indulge in painting. Expressing your creativity can be therapeutic to help you channel your stress more productively. If you find yourself unable to relax, you can always seek professional help.

Final Words
In the fast-paced world that we live in, stress is inevitable. Each day the mind has to make many decisions and perform numerous actions and tasks. For this gives the reason for the importance of self-care. You need to set aside some time for yourself to take a break and relax. Remember that the body is like a machine, and oiling a machine is just like self-care. If you don't do it regularly, the machine will slowly start to give way and will eventually break down.

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