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Understanding Stress Management
Stress is a normal occurrence of life. However, excessive stress is a serious issue that affects our ability to concentrate and to make simple decisions. People suffering from excessive stress will make silly mistakes and procrastinate a lot.
Why does stress take such a toll in our lives? For starters, stress is a coping mechanism and a survival tactic for many species inclusive of humans for thousands of years. When we perceive threat or danger, the brain sends a signal to the brain. It takes milliseconds for the stress response to set in.
Some of the body functions not essential to saving a life are automatically switched off. Body functions such as sex drive, salivation, digestion, and intelligence go off.
The survival instincts take charge. However, that only happens when our brains perceive danger.
When the early man lived in caves, they were always on the lookout for danger probably for that sabre toothed tiger would turn someone into a meal in seconds. When we sense danger, or our lives are at risk, the brain sends a survival message to the brain. At that instant, we prepare ourselves to fight, run, or stay still to avoid being noticed.
Sometimes we even play dead. This is known as the fight or flight response.
Assume that your body is a chemical factory. At first sight or thought of danger, the body produces adrenaline which prepares the body for the “fight or flight” response. It is an automatic process, and there is no time to think about it.
Some of the classic symptoms during such a moment are palpitations or heart pounding as blood and oxygen pumping increases. The breathing becomes rapid which enables you to flee or fight in a hurry. The survival functions are switched on enabling you to react appropriately.
When the sense of fear, alertness, and panic is aroused for a long time, the body produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is a life-saving chemical that changes the body and instructs the body on the appropriate behaviour to put into action.
The scared person causes continuous and heavy breathing faster than the normal rate. The heart palpitations increase, blood pressure rises, and the immune system shuts down. The essential body functions stop functioning normally. After the ordeal passes, the affected person feels exhausted.
Anxiety is a temporary feeling which passes when the danger or threat (perceived or real) goes away. However, having too much cortisol or adrenaline in your body for a long period of time has a negative effect. As a matter of fact, it, may cause a long term and permanent impact in your life.
Some of the effects of too much adrenaline in the body include palpitations, excessive sweating, restlessness, nerve damage, insomnia, and excessive weight loss.
The side effect of too much cortisol in the body causes weight gain, chronic backache, weak muscles, decreased libido and infertility, depression, impotence, and headaches.
Fortunately, we do not have to worry about the sabre toothed tiger and what it might do to us. There are other causes of stress that may trigger similar physiological responses.
For instance, maybe you are worried about the piling bills, your troublesome children, your boss at work, or failed relationships. Also, being unhappy, overwhelmed, negative thinking and emotions trigger such a response.
When some of the problems persist for long, and the body triggers the feeling of distress, it affects the well-being and health of the affected person.
The person may develop sleeping problems, weight loss; lose interest in sex and other major health problems.
Others will resort to addictions such as gambling, smoking, or abusing drugs. It often starts off as a distraction but later become addictive.
The addiction causes more stress and difficulties. Sometimes, the person will become abusive and violent.
How do we help someone in such a situation? What are some of the most effective stress management techniques?
Regular relaxation is one of the ways. It may appear simple, but it is has a myriad of benefits. You can swim, do yoga, meditate, or any other activity you consider relaxing. Listen to music, paint, read your favourite book, do gardening and get your mind away from the sabre toothed tiger.
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0409 079 435
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