Stress. The good, the bad, and how to cope.
There are certainly plenty of ups and downs in life. And when we think of stress, we usually think of something negative, right? There’s often too many things on our to-do list. There’s relationship issues, caretaking responsibilities, work stress, etc. But did you know that some stress is actually good for you? PLUS, the way that you cope with certain types of stress can determine the effect that each event has on your overall health and wellness.
Positive stress can be that day to day burst of energy that motivates you to complete a task, focus in on the job at hand, and kick in your “fight or flight” response. This can release of catecholamines into your blood stream, in a stressful or threatening situation (think braking quickly to avoid hitting a car, catching yourself to avoid a fall). Even exercise can be viewed as a “stressor” on your body. Fortunately though, it’s one that ultimately can help relieve tension, improve sleep quality, and help you decompress from the negative events.
On the flip side, too much negative stress, particularly of the emotional and mental variety that lingers for weeks or months and isn’t dealt with, can be very detrimental to your overall health. Persistent negative stress can lead to issues including a weakened immune system, difficulty sleeping, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and emotional symptoms including anxiety and depression. So how do you tell the difference and how do you cope? Below are some guidelines to help you reflect on the stressors in your life as well as some ideas to get you on the path to coping and thriving.
Signs or Symptoms of Constant Negative Stress in your life:
- General aches and pains
- Grinding teeth, clenched jaw
- Indigestion, acid reflux
- Change in appetite
- Racing heart
- Tiredness, exhaustion
- Trembling or shaking
- Weight gain or loss
- Upset stomach, diarrhea
- Being irritable, impatient or forgetful
Tips to Cope with the Stress in Your Life:
Talk to your Wellview health coach about ways to de-stress and find some “you” time. We have some wonderful handouts on coping with stress that your coach and send you, and you can discuss your thoughts afterwards. We also have a wonderful counselor on staff who can talk to you about the stressors that are negatively affecting your life. Talk to your coach or email the concierge to set up a session with email@example.com to sign up. We’re here to help!
Go For a Walk – even taking just five minutes at work or home to remove yourself from a stressful situation or take your mind off of stressful and negative thoughts can help put you in a better mental and emotional place. Think of it as a “brain break”!
Learn to Say NO – often times, if you are the person that seems to always stay on top of tasks, you are also the person who gets assigned to committees, event oversight, etc. Your colleagues and peers know it will be completed efficiently. While this is a type of compliment, it can be overwhelming and cause you unnecessary stress. Before you commit, take a step back and look at your stress load. If you are working at full steam, politely turn down the offer to save your sanity.
Seek out Positivity – have you ever noticed how negativity seems to fester and grow and influence all who are near it? If you are in a negative space and feeling stressed, head for the light! Seek out that ever positive, bubbly co-worker or friend and let them know that you need some positivity and laughter. After all, laughter is the best medicine right?!
Tune In (or out) – take a few minutes to listen to one of your favorite songs or check out a classical tune to unwind and let your mind drift away.
BREATHE – Find a quiet space to sit and try to focus solely on your breathing pattern. Start slow and take a deep breath in through your nose and slowly release out through your mouth. As you take each breath, begin to focus on relaxing your body. Try to let your shoulders relax, arms, wiggle your fingers around, etc.
– LAUREN ORMSBEE, CHC, CEP