I experienced vertigo some years ago and couldn’t understand why. My children experience abdominal pain or uneasiness when faced with change. A few of my friends experience headaches, break out in a rash, or become increasingly anxious about everything when they feel overwhelmed. Some people experience increased blood pressure, tense shoulders, or negative eating habits when faced with challenges. To what can we attribute these physical manifestations? Stress of course.
What can you do to minimize your stress and the physical or psychological impact? There are four ways to manage your stress:
- Recognize the stressors at hand
- Manage what is in your control
- Embrace the stress
- Seek support
First, recognize the stressors in your life. Stressors are the situations or issues that you perceive are greater than your ability to handle at the moment. Sometimes those issues are minor, while at other times they are life changing. Keep in mind, several minor stressors can create one large distress that has a major impact on your life.
Once you recognize which stressors are impacting your life, manage what is within your control. For instance, begin to focus on one stressor at a time. Typically, people become overwhelmed by the volume or complexity of their stressors and begin to avoid them altogether. This is the flight portion of the fight or flight response. For additional information on your reaction to stress, see the Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/stress-management/art-20044289
By focusing on one stressor independently (if possible), your perspective is clearer about that particular issue, the issue is more manageable, and you feel more in control. You respond confidently when you feel you have control. Therefore, manage those things (notice I did not say people) which are within your control. The Mayo Clinic provides additional tools that you may find beneficial. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relievers/art-20047257
Third, embrace the stress you are under and accept the things you cannot change. Based on research, when you think negatively about stress, you have a greater probability of not overcoming the stressor, but also of physical harm occurring. While stress impacts the body in negative ways, oxytocin is also released from your body. (For more information on oxytocin, review the American Psychological Association article, http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb08/oxytocin.aspx, and see Ted Talks video: http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend?utm_content=ted-androidapp&utm_medium=on.ted.com-android-share&utm_source=direct-on.ted.com&utm_campaign=&awesm=on.ted.com_f0PIH#t-346314) Oxytocin increases when we hug or kiss and is sometimes referred to as the “feel good” hormone. Hence, your body helps you embrace the stress without avoiding it. You are then able to focus on your plan of action to handle the stress before you.
Additionally, the oxytocin your body releases during stressful circumstances urges you to seek support. Now you have the green light to get that hug or kiss from a loved one so you can “feel good” in that moment and focus on your plan of action for those stressors. Leaning on others is important to boosting your confidence and clarifying your course of action. Remember you can talk to family, friends, and of course trained professionals like mental health counselors whenever you desire or need assistance.