What is Stress?
If you are like most people, you know that you go through stress daily. You have an exam coming up, a big meeting at work, a deadline, or bills to pay. Everyone goes through some type of stress, but why? Well, stress is how your body responds to certain demands or threats. There are a lot of factors that may trigger your stress, like for instance changes that could be occurring in your life, good or bad. They could be short term like driving to work/school or long term such as moving homes, or pregnancy. The changes in your life could be very mild like getting a new hairstyle or buying a new car. Then there are ones that are major like divorce, death in the family, accidents, or a change in living arrangements.
The sneakiest type of stress is good stress. While “good stress” may sound like an oxymoron or totally fictitious, the fact is it’s real. An example of good stress is if you get a job promotion which makes more money but demands more of your time. You may think “yeah, a job promotion is awesome!” Although if the job promotion means going from 40 hours a week to 60 hours a week, even if you love your work, that can be stressful. We don’t take this type of stress into account. For example, when I was in college I was going to school full time, working part time, in a sorority, student government association and a few other student groups. I slept very little, worked very hard and partied very hard as well. Then towards the end of my sophomore year, I suddenly broke out in hives. I went to the dermatologist and he said “This is stress-induced. I can give you medicine to alleviate it but it will only stop recurring if you manage your stress.” I told the doctor that I wasn’t stressed that life was good and I had so many great things happening in my life. He was right, I was wrong and it took me quite some time to make that realization. So if you’re reading this and think, “This does not apply to me.” Think again!
How is the Body Affected?
A stressful situation, whether it is something mild, like trying to prepare for a deadline you have the next day or something serious, like a death in the family, can easily trigger a load of stress hormones in the body that can produce some physiological changes. These stresses can cause symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, and rapid breathing.
These combinations of reactions involving stress can also be known as the “flight or fight” response. As humans we all have the “fight or flight” response, where we react in response to harmful events or threats to our survival. When we are put in certain situations that are dangerous to us, it can cause your pulse to pump faster, your breath to be heavier, which allows the brain to use more oxygen to manage the situation. While these responses are intended to be helpful at the moment of threat, if you continue to live in a “flight or fight” mode over time these effects can be very harmful. If you want to know and stay aware for ways stress can affect your body, below are some common symptoms of stress.
Common symptoms for when the body is affected by stress:
- Trouble sleeping
- Pains, tense muscle
- Low energy
- Colds and infections
- Dry mouth
- Clenched jaw
- Acid reflux
- Digestive problems
3 Different Types of Stress
Acute stress: This stress is brief. This stress is caused by reactive thinking of negative situations that may have happened that day or in the past. Also, situations that may be coming in the near future. So if you recently got into an argument with friends, spouse, or family, you may experience negative thoughts that were caused by the argument that would be acute stress.
Episodic Acute Stress: This is someone who experiences acute stress frequently or may have many triggers of stress.
Personality types which often experience Episodic Acute Stress:
“Type A” Personality: ambitious, aggressive, sense of time urgency, impatient, demanding
“Negative Nancy” Personality: always thinking negative, thinking the world is dangerous, tense, more anxious and depressed than angry. A lot of “what if…” thinking
Chronic Stress: Most harmful. When it comes to this stress, if not treated in a proper amount of time it could lead to damage of your physical and/or mental health. Abuse, unemployment, unhappy marriage to name a few could cause chronic stress.
Coping with Stress..
Everyone is different, no one in the world has the same approach when it comes to coping with stress, but these are some pretty good strategies that you may want to take into consideration.
- Seek help: There are many people that do not like going to others for advice, and would rather keep everything inside. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, a lot of the times it’s a great idea to let it out to someone who isn’t going to judge, but rather wants to help you in life.
- Keep in touch with your support system: Friends, family, co-workers, spouse, make sure you continue in the same circle of people you know will keep positive vibes around you.
- Avoid toxic people: Stay away from negative people who will drain your energy.
- Make time for yourself: Even if you are someone who loves your work, try to plan and arrange your schedule so that you have days to yourself to enjoy fun activities.
- Get rest: Get a good amount of sleep (7-9 hours) every night.
- Hobbies: Try listening to music, watching a movie, yoga, going out with friends, something that involves you relaxing. Make time to do this weekly or monthly.
- Note to self: Make sure you track down positive things you were able to get done, instead of thinking poorly of activities that still need work.
- Exercise regularly: Even if you cannot make it to the gym, there are plenty of in home exercises you can do, and also simple videos you can look up online.
- Prioritize: Determine and set important objectives that need to be done for the day, and plan on focusing on those, instead of worrying about things that aren’t as important. Try not to overwhelm yourself.
- Meditation: Make sure you take about 10-15 minutes daily, sit comfortably and take a couple of deep breaths in and out.
- Energy Healing: Helps with relieving stress, trauma, negativity and/or emotional baggage.
Be sure to monitor and manage your stress!
If you know someone whose stress is chronic and they are incredibly overwhelmed, please refer them to the Maryland Crisis Hotline: 1-800-422-0009. Sometimes it just takes one person reaching out to save a life!
Spiritual Spectra can help!
Over the last 7 years, Spiritual Spectra has specialized in stress and anxiety reduction through Reiki and Meditation which addresses the causes of stress and anxiety and thereby releases the emotional and physical symptoms associated with it. The Baltimore Sun interviewed Jennifer Garcia, Founder of Spiritual Spectra, for a February 1, 2019 article about the importance of letting go of stress. In addition, Spiritual Spectra offers Spiritual Consultations that provide guidance on life, romance, career and/or business and with clarity comes calm. Our services are provided in our office in Columbia but for groups of 3 or more, we can go onsite at your home or business.