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How to Be Better at Stress - Well Guides

Your Perception About Stress

With stress, the mind and the body are intrinsically linked. You can view stress as something that is wreaking havoc on your body (and it can) or as something that is giving you the strength and energy to overcome adversity.

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How to Be Better at Stress - Well Guides

How to Be Better at Stress - Well Guides

https://www.nytimes.com/guides/well/how-to-deal-with-stress

nytimes.com

10

Key Ideas

Understanding Stress

  • Dealing with Stress is imperative as it is unavoidable in modern life.
  • Our work, family and our finances create daily stress and other external factors (like politics and terrorism) contribute to our stress levels.
  • A little bit of stress is good for you, and even make you stronger, as long as you don't let it rule your life.
  • The power of belief is actively at work with stress, which can harm you if you believe that it can.

Your Perception About Stress

With stress, the mind and the body are intrinsically linked. You can view stress as something that is wreaking havoc on your body (and it can) or as something that is giving you the strength and energy to overcome adversity.

Exposure to Stress

Regular exposure to stress in small quantities can prepare us to handle a big stressful event in our lives. Prepare yourself for stress by self-education about the stressful event, by doing some physically stressful activities like completing a marathon, or something you dread, like giving a speech.

Repeated exposure to mildly stressful conditions can alter your body’s biological response to stress, making you manage stress in a better way.

Socially Stressful Activities

Socially stressful programs and activities like:

  • Basic Military Training
  • Boot Camp
  • Wildlife Camping Trips

have skill-building, uncomfortable situations by design, that help kids and adults incorporate social and intellectual abilities.

Boost Stress Resilience

Resilience is our ability to 'bounce back' from difficult experiences. There are several ways to practice it:

  • Reframe a seemingly negative condition.
  • Focus on core belief or faith.
  • Find a role model who has come through adversity.
  • Face your fears and confront them rather than avoiding.
  • Take the support of religion or spirituality.
  • Reach out to friends and family.
  • Exercise.
  • Challenge yourself regularly in physical, mental and moral domains.
  • Find meaning and purpose in your life.

Exercise to Lower Stress

Consistent exercise helps in handling stress by:

  • Providing our body with the physical conditioning it requires to recover from stress.
  • Producing mood-boosting endorphins in the brain (especially weight training).
  • Outdoor activities boost your mood further due to the natural surroundings and fresh air.

The Mind

Our mind may be the key tool in handling stressAnd it needs rest to recover and handle the stressful situation in a better way.

  • MeditationOur mind is an emotional muscle, and meditation is the tool to make it rest and restore itself. Controlled breathing is one of the best ways one can improve concentration, vitality and boost one's immune system.
  • Journal writingwhether it is a daily journal, or a mission statement or even a priority list, it can help us reflect on our situation, change our perception, and identify obstacles that may be hindering our goal.

Stress and Appetite

Sudden and acute stress can shutdown our appetite temporarily as a stress-response mechanism, but chronic stress (anxiety, worry) can increase our appetite.

Mindful eating, which involves eating slowly and relishing every bite, while being aware of the food that is going in us, is extremely important. Be present in the moment and savor the food you're eating.

Friends And Family During Stress

The support of family and friends is a vital element in handling stressful situations. 
  • Seeking, and giving support is a powerful way to manage the stress in your life and boost your resilience. This includes listening to and emphasizing with a friend, mentoring, and volunteer work.
  • Acts of physical touch can ease your stress, like hugging or holding hands.
  • Spending time with animals is known to reduce stress, and there is ample evidence that pets are a source of comfort and stress relief.

Health Effects of High Stress

While some stress is essential for human function, chronic stress creates a cascade of physical changes throughout your body: 

  • Heart problems: high risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. 
  • A weak immune system, leaving you vulnerable in the face of illnesses. 
  • Diabetes risk: Chronic stress can lead to extra blood sugar. 
  • Stress can cause stomach and digestion problems and increase the intake of unhealthy foods and alcohol. 
  • Sex and reproduction problems in both men and women.

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We’re all under stress right now. And the stress-reactive circuits in our brain guide us to respond ineffectively to stress and cause chronic stress and rising rates of emotional, behavioral, socia...

Understanding the emotional brain
  • The neural circuits in our emotional brain - the limbic system and subconscious memory systems - control our emotional responses in daily life.
  • When a stimulus arrives in the brain, it activates either stress-resilient circuits, the internal calmers and healers, or stress-reactive circuits.
  • The brain activates the strongest circuit, which controls our responses.
  • If the strongest circuit is the reactive circuit, our strong emotions get the upper hand, and the stress interferes with the part of our brain responsible for higher-level thinking and planning.
  • The longer the stress-reactive circuit is activated, the more likely they are to activate other stress-reactive wires, which can cause an emotional meltdown of anxiety, numbness, depression, and hostility.
Retrain the stressed brain

The brain learns to be resilient by being resilient. It takes becoming stressed, then use emotional techniques to change the unreasonable expectations stored in that circuit.

  • One technique is to complain briefly. It activates the reactive wire that has encoded an incorrect response.
  • Then rapidly express emotions, starting with a burst of anger (which decreases stress). You can then stay present to your strong, negative emotions. Talk to yourself through finishing phrases like " I feel afraid that..." or "I feel sad that..."

one more idea

Gentle morning exercise

Exercising may help alleviate anxiety when faced with a sudden, unpredictable shock.

Spend time with a close friend

According to research, when we connect with friends, we can handle stress better.

Start the day with time outside

According to a study, spending time in nature, or even just looking at scenes of nature, may help you recover faster from subsequent stressful experiences.

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Worry

Worry is the cognitive part of anxiety, with it's repetitive and obsessive thought patterns in our mind. Worry is sometimes essential for us to solve problems or take action, provided we are not st...

Stress

Stress is a biological response(or a reaction) to external changes and forces beyond one's resources. Signs of stress include a rapid heart rate, shallow breath, and an adrenaline rush.


Acute stress or temporary stress is normal and even beneficial. Chronic stress is linked to health concerns like heart disease and a weakened immune system.


Ways to Handle Stress:

  • Exercise daily.
  • Focus your energy on what you can control.
  • Know that your stress response is unique to you.
Anxiety

Anxiety is the culmination of worry and stress. It is a state of body and mind which is stressed and worried for no apparent reason, like a response to a false alarm.

An anxiety disorder is an acute form of anxiety and a serious medical condition.


How to Handle Anxiety:

  • Curb your sugar, alcohol and caffeine consumption.
  • Calm yourself by deep breathing and refocusing on your body parts.
  • Distract yourself by listening to music or a little exercise.
Stress, worry and anxiety can be helped by regular exercise, a nutritious diet and an ample amount of sleep.
    Mindfulness at work
    Mindfulness at work

    Means being consciously present in what you’re doing, while you’re doing it, as well as managing your mental and emotional state. 

    If you’re writing a report, mindfulness requires...

    1 min/session

    That’s the minimum required for a mini-mediation.

    Just focus on your sense. You don’t need to close your eyes. You don’t even need to be sitting down.

    Use Mindful Reminders

    You can use interruptions as hooks to make you more mindful.

    Every time your phone rings, take a mindful breath. Every time you hear the ping of a text message, pause to be mindful of your surroundings rather than immediately reacting by checking the message. 

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    Reducing Stress

    Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress.

    • In an eight-week study, a meditation style called "mindfulness meditation" reduced the inflammation response caused by stres...
    Controlling Anxiety

    Less stress leads to less anxiety.

    Regular meditation helps reduce anxiety and anxiety-related mental health issues like social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

    Promoting Emotional Health

    Some types of meditation can improve depression and help you maintain these benefits.

    • Two studies of mindfulness meditation found decreased depression in over 4,600 adults.
    • One study found that participants experienced a long-term decrease in depression.

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    Self-criticism

    It compromises your goals and undermines your pursuits, whether they are academic, health related, personal, or professional.

    Self-criticism predicts depression, avoidance behaviors, loss of ...

    Self-compassion

    It generates resilience, it empowers you to be flexible, and gives you the ability to identify problems, accept negative feedback from others, and change habits that no longer serve you.

    Practice self-care at work
    • Use lunch as an act of self-care. Take a moment to notice this nourishment you’re giving yourself. 
    • Remember that, just like you, everybody feels like a fraud to a certain degree.
    • Helping people makes us feel good about ourselves and connected to others. So, instead of defaulting to “No, thanks” or “ I’m fine” when someone offers you something, try saying yes.
    Stress and motivation

    Used effectively, stress can motivate us to accomplish more than we had imagined possible. Stress can jolt us to reach our potential. Without stress, we’d feel rudderless and without purpose.

    Not all stress is bad for you
    • “Good stress”: which psychologists refer to as “eustress,” is the stress we feel when we’re excited about something.
    • Acute stress: when something surprises us or catches us off guard. Acute stress is the body’s response to ensure you react and take measures to deal with the unexpected situation. It has no lasting negative effects if we deal with it quickly and move on.
    Build your resilience

    Resilience is how we deal with stress effectively so we “bounce back” after a difficult time.

    As we deal with issues that cause tension and strain, we learn to face adversity, deal with significant issues and overcome problems. We learn how to formulate realistic plans and carry them out.

    5 more ideas

    Have Self-Compassion

    Self-compassion is being willing to look at your mistakes or failures with kindness and understanding—without harsh criticism or defensiveness. 

    Most of us believe that we need to be har...

    Remember the "Big Picture"

    Thinking Big Picture about the work you do can be very energizing in the face of stress and challenges because you are linking one particular, often small action to a greater meaning or purpose. 

    Something that may not seem important or valuable on its own gets cast in a whole new light. 

    Rely on Routines

    Every time you make a decision, you create a state of mental tension that is, in fact, stressful. 

    The solution is to reduce the number of decisions you need to make by using routines. If there's something you need to do every day, do it at the same time every day. Have a routine for preparing for your day in the morning, and packing up to go home at night. Simple routines can dramatically reduce your experience of stress. 

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    Turn Anxiety To Focus

    Stress affects us in different ways and at different times. One of the most common ways stress affects us is right before talking to your boss, when playing sports or before a speech.

    ...

    How Our Brains Handle Stress

    When we feel stressed, our brains release a chemical called noradrenaline. Noradrenaline increases arousal and alertness, it increases the formation and retrieval of memories, and it focuses attention. It also increases restlessness and anxiety.

    If we find ways to control and handle stress emotionally, we can use it to our advantage. It can sharpen our brain function and increase creativity, and eventually make us happier and less anxious.

    Reframe The Situation

    Symptoms of stress, like a dry mouth and a racing heart, are the same as excitement. Research confirms that when people are in stressful situations such as public speaking, instead of telling themselves to calm down, reframing the situation as exciting helps to ride the wave of stress.

    Anxiety can drain you and decrease your confidence while reframing your anxiety as excitement will increase your performance.

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    Workplace Recognition

    Employees that feel they have a positive personal rapport with their management are more likely to be engaged and feel more appreciated when they or their work gets noticed.

    Encourage Employees To Move Their Bodies

    To reduce stress in the workplace and increase focus and clarity, encourage your team members to do some physical activity. Physical activity such as yoga and running is also a good way for staff to learn how to pace themselves at work.

    You can also set some reminders every two hours for your team members to stand up, stretch and rest their eyes by looking out of the window.

    Offer a Flexible Work Environment

    Allow your team members flexibility by not monitoring them often, if their work is completed by specific deadlines. Remember that salary is not everything.

    Letting go of rigid work schedules or allowing them to work from home when possible goes a long way to reduce stress in the workplace.

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