Managing Summer Stress
First let’s talk about stress, and what is it?
Let’s define the word “stress”; it can be recognized as feeling overwhelmed, burnout, anxiety or fear. In other words it feels like your whole world is sitting on your shoulders. Stress usually has a negative connotation and can have a total impact on our feelings, such as emotional, physical, mental and spiritual well-being. The fear and anxiety start to set in. However, stress can be good as well? Yes, stress can be good, so take a breath! When you’re feeling overwhelmed, burnout, anxiety or fear it can cause stress in the body. However, stress can be invoked from an upcoming event, stimulus, or demand. Often these types of stress can result in rewards, positive attitude, increased self-esteem and gratitude. It can also be perceived by our attitudes, values, personality, and even by our moods.
We can experience two different kinds of stress; such as positive stress (eustress) and negative stress (distress). I am human, so, therefore I get stressed out! We all do from time to time! Stress can be a major energy drainer! I try to be very careful how I react to a stressful situation. I try to remember that life happens, but I can control how I respond to it (it’s all in the attitude). It makes all the difference.
Research has shown that long term stress can influence the mind and body negatively. Repetitive or sustained stress (the kind that never ends) such as a long commute to work, money worries or a toxic relationship). Chronic stress levels can drain our energy, and make us feel like staying in bed with the covers over your head. We can feel heavy in our bodies. We must try to learn to control our reactions. I believe we react to stress in different ways with emotional, physical, mental and spiritual reactions. For example, emotional eating, mental fog, physically fatigued, frustrated and spiritually exhausted. We know life can throw some curve balls and we often react negatively which often results in a negative outcome.
When your body is under short-term stress, your body releases the hormone cortisol. The body releases this “fight or flight” hormone, which is a response of the sympathetic nervous system. This can increase fats and sugars within your bloodstream to get your brain and muscles to react in a quick burst of energy. This can be an impulsive reaction that is difficult to control. When the stress has passed, your body can return to its normal relaxation state which is created by the parasympathetic nervous system.
When under chronic stress your body will release cortisol consistently and such long-term exposure to elevated cortisol wears your body down physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It can leave you vulnerable to colds, hormone imbalances, weight gain, illness and conditions from diabetes to cancer. Chronic stress is epidemic in our busy world we live in today. This is especially true for women! Make some time for an hour, or weekend to blow off some steam and get refreshed.
Here are a few tips to blow off some steam and get refreshed:
1. Breathing is an excellent way to blow off some stress. The breathing I’m talking about is being mindful, aware and focused on the breath itself. This will help release the stress. Now try breathing in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. (Deep breathing increases the oxygen in your blood and relaxes your body and mind).
2. Take some time for a yoga class it is a great way to learn different types of breathing. Don’t have time? YouTube has some great yoga videos for 20-30 minute practices.
3. Take a meditation walk to get out of your head (healing the mind from every day busy to-do-list can be refreshing for the soul). Appreciate the beauty about you as you take this meditation walk, listen around you to the trees, sky, wind, animals, etc.). You’ll be surprised what you can hear and see and how it can relax you.
4. Embracing a positive mood can have a direct impact on your mood. Have you ever noticed when you’re in a low mood, your energy is low? When your mood is positive, your energy follows. (thinking positive may reduce stress, boost your mood, and take away worry and fear).