We all experience varying levels and lengths of stress, triggered by an array of scenarios — some logical, others not. Managing this powerful emotional and physiological response to adverse or demanding circumstances comes more naturally to some, but can certainly be taught to even the most nervous of them all.
Here are some things about that you may not know but definitely need to be aware of, if you’re dealing with stress.
1. Know your limits. Stress is contagious.
Anyone interacting with someone who’s stressed, especially for prolonged periods of time, has an increased risk of being affected by empathetic stress. Caregivers and family members of chronically stressed individuals are most at risk here, but even watching T.V. shows involving confrontations of stress can transmit the tension.
This empathetic stress negatively impacts the immune system and is toxic to the mind and body in the long term. Know your limits when it comes to how much stress you can healthily expose yourself to. Also, be cognizant of how your worry may be negatively impacting those around you.
2. Find someone who understands.
When especially stressed, it is extremely helpful to share your feelings with someone who is having a similar anxious reaction to the same situation. Stressed out about your job? Talk it out with a colleague who is undergoing the same scenario. There is tremendous benefit gained by conversing with others whose emotional response is in line with your own.
3. Try your best to stay positive. (It could actually help you find a solution sooner.)
A glass-half-full mentality may be the ticket to a more stress-free life. The “stress hormone” cortisol tends to be more stable for those who maintain a positive outlook. Pessimists have difficulty regulating their emotional and physical responses to particularly stressful situations. Optimists tend to be more solution-oriented and thus better react to the stress hormone allowing it to amplify their get-up-and-go attitudes.
Try to examine the situation for a practical, instead of emotional, perspective.
4. Remember that not all stress is bad.
While stress is often the enemy, we can’t ignore its ability to push us to optimal alertness and performance. Short, but significant bouts of stress cause our brains to proliferate new nerve cells that improve mental performance.
Stress hormones are an incredible adaptation that provide us with the ability to remember not only anxiety-ridden situations themselves, but more importantly, how we dealt with them, giving us the power of resiliency, allowing us to be ready for whatever life may throw our way.
The next time you’re stressed, remember it’s a normal part of life, don’t despair and take active, positive steps to help relieve the tension.