How your body responds to stress

How your body responds to stress

Stress is best defined as an emotional and physical state where the body is getting ready for the "fight or flight" response.

During the fight or flight response the body releases adrenaline, experiences palpitations and increased sweating that lasts until the perceived threat is over, or until the body falls into exhaustion and can no longer sustain this state. The stress can cause a lack of sleep, inability to focus, and changes in our eating habits.

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Stress is a useful warning sign that we may be pushing it too far. It is important to learn to recognize and respond to it.

  • Becoming aware of what triggers a stress response can help us avoid or deal with them.
  • Look after your body physically to build resilience to stress. Eating sensibly, sleeping well and taking regular breaks can help our bodies function better.
  • Make healthy changes to your routine. If certain people cause us to feel uncomfortable, perhaps reduce the amount of time we see them.
  • Engage in activities that make you happy. Perhaps you have a hobby you can incorporate into your life.
  • Say no when necessary. If we spread ourselves too thinly, the quality of our relationships and work may suffer.
  • Practice mindful deep breathing. Breathe in for a count of 4 through the nose, hold for 2, and out through the mouth for a count of 6.
  • Engage in informal mindfulness. When you're out walking for example, listen to birdsong or feel the warmth of the sun.
  • Keep evergreens or use your other senses to support feelings of relaxation.

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Emotions can act in our favour
  • Generally, emotions keep us safe. Feeling fear will help us survive a threatening environment, and feeling love helps us form companionship.
  • Emotions can also be manipulated. It includes the act of "posturing" - making one's body look larger than it is - to seem more threatening. Humans instinctively respond to the neonatal features of babies which encourages us to protect them.
  • We can alter our emotional display so as to elicit an appropriate response. For example, the teacher who is hugely frustrated, but greets with a smile.

But emotional labour can cause burnout, manipulation of emotion can cause confusion and hurt, and showing off will not always achieve the results we desire.

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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.
Fear of Not Fitting In

The fear of rejection is ingrained in us.

Overcome this by understanding that people want to know you listen to their ideas and concerns.  Your team will appreciate knowing you will hear them out.

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