There is a lot of stuff happening in the world. As much as we try to separate ourselves from the stressful stuff in our lives, it’s more challenging than that. It’s worth noting that not all stress is “bad”.
There are two kinds of stress:
Eustress - n. the positive stress response, involving optimal levels of stimulation: a type of stress that results from challenging but attainable and enjoyable or worthwhile tasks (e.g., participating in an athletic event, giving a speech). It has a beneficial effect by generating a sense of fulfillment or achievement and facilitating growth, development, mastery, and high levels of performance.
Distress - n. the negative stress response, often involving negative affect and physiological reactivity: a type of stress that results from being overwhelmed by demands, losses, or perceived threats. It has a detrimental effect by generating physical and psychological maladaptation and posing serious health risks for individuals. This generally is the intended meaning of the word stress.
Stress affects each of us differently.
Take the time to monitor who you respond to challenging tasks or situations. Do you have more of a fixed or growth mindset?
Stress Management Techniques:
- Rhythmic breathing - breathe in while counting to 4 in your head, hold for a count of 2 and exhale while counting to 8. Repeat.
- Progressive Relaxation - contract a specific muscle group for 5-7 seconds then relax. Repeat for a different muscle group.
- Become aware of what you are saying to yourself. If your self talk is negative and impacting your outlook practice:Thought stoppage - when you think and unwanted thought, use a trigger to interrupt or stop the thought. Can be physical - snapping fingers, clapping hand against thigh or a word such as saying/thinking stop.Changing negative thoughts to positive ones - if you think that “this new task is really hard, i can’t do it” you can immediately follow it with a positive thought “i’ve learned how to do many hard things in my life, I can learn how to do this”
- Visit a mental health professional. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
Master the Basics
- Nutrition - are you giving your body the nutrients it needs to thrive?
- Hydration - the human body is 60% water. Are you drinking enough water daily?
- Physical Activity - adults should get 150 - 300 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. (Department of Health and Human Services)
- Sleep - adults are recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Lack of sleep will lead to mood declining, then cognition then physical performance.
This time of year seems to always bring on more stress, this year especially so. Be gentle with yourself and others. Take time for yourself.