Is stress our bitter enemy? Or is it our trusty sidekick?
It’s both, depending on the type of stress and how we perceive it.
Acute stress vs Chronic stress:
Imagine that you have to do some public speaking, you’ve got your speech prepared and you’re waiting to go up and talk. Your palms are sweaty, mouth is dry and heart is beating so loud that you think everyone can hear it.
You get up, do the talk and afterwards there’s a great sense of relief and accomplishment.
This is Acute Stress, and it is very good for us. Both mentally and physically.
The hormones that are released make us super aware and switched on.
Once the stress system is turned off, we feel that relaxed relief.
But what if that system never fully turned off, there was always the stress response nagging in the background of our consciousness. And any small trigger set it off?
This is Chronic Stress, which can lead to:
Diminished brain function, fast & shallow breathing, tunnel vision, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, digestive problems, disinterest and poor performance in the bedroom, decreased energy, decrease in cellular repair, and many more…
So the two key areas to focus on here are:
Embracing acute stress.
Getting rid of, and preventing chronic stress.
Embracing Acute Stress.
Firstly we can shift our perception on this stress. When you have to get up and talk in front of people or something of that nature then embrace the feeling. Be thankful for it because it’s doing your mind and body good!
Next we can look at choosing acute stress.
We’re going to experience stress throughout our lives in some way or form, so one thing I like to do is get it out of the way early in the day on my own terms.
Having a cold shower first thing in the morning puts your body into an acute stress response.
Yes it’s uncomfortable at the time, and my brain keeps telling me not to do it. But afterwards I feel incredible and everything else throughout the day seems a bit easier.
This is also the same with exercise. It elicits the acute stress response.
Getting through a good solid workout makes the rest of the day easier.
Sauna is also another good idea for this.
There is also yoga and breathwork.
But by consciously choosing which stress we want, we can avoid the stress that we don’t want.
Getting rid of, and preventing Chronic Stress.
Below are some of the best ways to combat chronic stress.
The most powerful technique for sure! Whilst meditating you’re literally detoxing stress out of your body.
There’s many good apps out there to get you started (Mindfulness / 1 Giant Mind). Start slow and remember, there’s no such thing as a ‘bad’ meditation. This is a time not only to detox stress, but to get to know yourself in a whole new way.
A good friendship group can be a huge help. It can be 1, 5 or 10 people, doesn’t matter as long as you can open up and let them know how you’re feeling and what’s really going on in your life.
Never underestimate the power of a friendly ear.
As mentioned earlier, this is a healthy form of acute stress. The endorphin release can help greatly with chronic stress. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, get that heart rate up and get a sweat on!
Find what’s fun for you, if it’s not fun you won’t keep it up.
This is where our body does most of it’s repairing. So find a rhythm and make sure you’re hitting 7-9 hours. Limiting caffeine after 5pm and reading a book before sleeping are a great help. If you are on electronics then put them into ‘night mode’. This disables the blue light which stops our brain from producing melatonin which puts us to sleep.
We don’t just eat through our mouth. We are eating through all of our 5 senses. Reading an inspiring book about someone like us that has lived an amazing life is incredible food for our mind.
Hopefully this has shed some new light on Stress for you and you can use some of these strategies to live a more peaceful life.
Specialists in Addiction Recovery and Mental Health at our Addiction Rehab Centre in Melbourne, Australia.