If I gave you a glass of water of water to hold and asked how heavy it is, you might say “300 grams” – not a very heavy weight at all. If you then held it out in front of you for 20 minutes, you would start to feel the strain. If you held it up for an hour, your right arm would ache. If you held it up for a day, I’d have to call the ambulance. In each case, it’s the same weight but the longer you hold it, the less tolerable it becomes.
Stress management is much like this.
We carry our burdens with us all the time, and sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.
Stress affects everybody different. Some signs that you are overly stressed may include sleep disturbance, poor digestion, overly tense muscles, agitated behaviour, high blood pressure, mental slowness, anxiety, a sense of being overwhelmed or overworked, decreased sex drive, apathy and many more.
Before we start to shun stress as the root of all problems in the body, it’s also important to recognise that the stress response is a necessary and incredibly useful part of our physiology.
Imagine if a fire alarm went off in the middle of the night. Your body would immediately be switched into “fight or flight” mode. Your breathing would increase and your heart pumps faster. Your hypothalamus tells your adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol, prompting an immediate response to either put the fire out or evacuate the building. So you do.
The stress response just saved your life – a phenomenal result if you ask me!
Where this becomes a bad thing is if you end up fighting the insurance company for the next 6 months to make a claim and your stress levels remain high the entire time.
Instead of avoiding stress altogether, it’s important to find ways to manage and reduce stress.
The 5 Rs of Stress Management
- RETHINK the way you think about stress
The way you frame your mindset has a huge impact on what causes a stress response in your body. What is perceived as a stressor to Bob may not cause a stress response in Jane. For example, Bob may, view losing his job as an anxiety-inducing nightmare, while Jane chooses to view it as an opportunity for personal growth and development. The way each of them choose to think about the same event will be the deciding factor on how the body responds.
2. REORGANISE your schedule and routines
Reorganising your health and developing healthy habits provides more energy and builds resilience. For instance, exercise not only improves physical functioning but it also helps your brain process information better and perform at a higher level. Prioritise your workouts when scheduling your week, and ensure that you allow yourself to get enough quality sleep.
3. REDUCE your number of commitments
It’s very common for us to pack our schedules with commitments leaving no time for ourselves. We often do that because we find it hard to say no to others – friends, family, work commitments, etc. While the intentions are often positive, learning to say no in order to take time for ourselves can often be the best way to be a better friend, partner or worker. Start by eliminating what is not necessary.
4. RELAX your body and mind
During a house fire, your sympathetic nervous system is fired up. The goal of relaxation is to utilise the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows the heart rate, increases digestive activity and is imperative to recovery. Deep breathing, yoga, quality sleep and taking time for hobbies to switch off from time to time can help with this.
5. RELEASE your muscle tension
The goal is to reduce muscle tension and to use up energy that is mobilised during a stress response. We divide physical activity into mild, moderate and vigorous activities. Sometimes a vigorous weight-lifting session can be the perfect way to release the tension. Other times, something more gentle like yoga or a walk may be the perfect way to de-stress.
Real Fitness Training encourage a life of balance by managing stress through exercise, yoga and through personalised coaching. If you are in the Hills District including Castle Hill, Kellyville, Bella Vista, Baulkham Hills, Glenhaven, West Pennant Hills, Dural, Rouse Hill and surrounding areas contact us to help you get started on your health and wellness journey.