Stress is a natural part of life, and it can help you get things done.
Even severe stress caused by doing too many things, job loss, a family tragedy, or a traumatic life event can be a normal part of life. For a period, you may feel low or anxious, which is natural.
What is Stress?
Stress is the feeling of being under a lot of pressure. This pressure might come from a multitude of sources in your day-to-day existence.
The stress of working and studying at the same time, the stress of stretching a modest budget each month, the stress of breaking up with someone you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with, the stress of fighting with a roommate who was once your best friend but is now your sworn enemy, and, of course, the stress of cramming a 20-page Engineering material and struggling to remember advanced calculus formulas on your final exam.
What Causes Stress?
Most people often link stress with scary or anxiety-inducing events that provoke a strong fight-or-flight response, such as meeting a deadline, getting up the courage to give a public speech, or coming face to face with a grizzly bear.
However, stress is simply your body’s response to situations in which it believes it needs extra strength, stamina, and attentiveness in order to survive and thrive.
Any perceived threat to your health might trigger a stress response, which is your body’s attempt to adjust to the demand and restore normalcy to your physiological and psychological systems.
Thus, a stress response can be triggered by stimuli such as allergies, bacteria, lack of sleep, hunger, cold, and heat, as well as things like passing an exam or being held up at gunpoint.
Things that seem “good,” such as asking a babe out on a date or standing at the starting line of a marathon, can also be stressful.
Even something as beneficial as exercise causes stress (“stressing” your muscles and cardiovascular system is exactly how you get stronger and fitter).
Stress is influenced by both external and internal factors. The physical environment, which includes your employment, your connections with people, your house, and all the scenarios, challenges, difficulties, and expectations you face on a daily basis, are all external influences.
Your body’s ability to respond to and deal with external stressors is determined by internal elements. Your dietary status, overall health and fitness levels, mental well-being, and the amount of sleep and rest you get are all internal elements that influence your ability to handle stress.
Finally, what generates stress is determined in part by how you perceive it. Something that stresses you out might not bother someone else; in fact, they might like it.
While some of us are scared of performing or speaking in front of an audience, others thrive in the spotlight.
When job expectations increase, one person thrives under pressure and performs best in the face of a tight deadline, while another shuts down. As they say, This Life is Not Balanced.
What Happens When We Stress?
Your nervous system responds to stress by releasing the hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol into your bloodstream.
Your heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, and breathing all increase as a result of these hormones; your blood vessels widen to boost blood flow to your muscles; your pupils dilate to improve eyesight, and your liver releases stored glucose for your body to use as energy.
When confronted with a challenge — a job interview, a crucial game, a challenging test – the stress response keeps you alert and can help you perform better and handle pressure.
It also adds to the thrill of life, such as when you’re scared before giving a big speech or riding a roller coaster.
Can Stress Be Good?
“The stress response is such a healthy part of our lives that we should stop calling it stress at all and call it, say, the challenge-response”, says neuroscientist John Coates.
This is a fantastic concept. Instead of perceiving stress as a negative, think of it as the ability to overcome obstacles and succeed. However, like any other form of power, it can be used for beneficial purposes or misused in ways that are harmful.
I have a love-hate relationship with stress as a long-time worrying machine. This may appear weird. But, while stress might send my mind on an insane rollercoaster, it’s strange that I feel the most energized and productive when I’m under duress. I don’t love working under pressure, but my level of productivity when it feels like I’m in a cooking pot goes up the roof!
Please do not misunderstand. I wish I could wake up to sweet texts, credit alerts, and warm beams of sunshine without a single stressor in the world, but we all know that’s not going to happen, because of Unilag and some other reasons.
Rather than nurturing the fantasy of a stress-free existence, I choose to see the glass as half full, as should you. Because stress, whether you realize it or not, can make you wiser, healthier, and stronger.
However, while you should do all possible to avoid this form of mental abuse, modest amounts of stress should be welcomed with open arms.
When we see a challenge, we have an inborn physiological response called the flight-or-fight response. Your body is designed to deal with common stress triggers, and when your natural defenses kick in, your health improves. According to Time, Stress can:
- enhance your motivation.
- Build resilience and encourage growth.
- promote bonding.
- help you build a beautiful life.
When Does Stress Become Bad?
Based on experience, there are two situations where stress will mess up your mind, productivity and efficiency:
- Too much Tension
- When the situations causing the stress become persistent
Too Much Tension:
The degree to which you believe your talents and resources (including time) is enough in dealing with a certain set of circumstances determines how much stress you experience. This sense of competence might stem from either reality or one’s own optimistic or pessimistic self-evaluation.
Stress that comes from too much tension can be very difficult to handle and can feel crushing instead of energizing, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and powerless to get things done.
A man who enjoys and is skilled at public speaking would experience far less anxiety before giving a presentation than a shy and awkward speaker. When a girl dumps a guy, a man who is less confident in himself and the value he has would be heartbroken much more than a man who is convinced he will find someone else soon.
When the situations causing the stress become persistent:
In today’s world, our worries can be endless. We can’t just delete the annoying person on Twitter or our unreasonable colleague, no matter how much we want to. Instead, we are forced to put up with him every day. Day after day, our bodies release low levels of stress chemicals as a result of chronic stress.
Let me bring a personal example. There was a time when someone I know was actually failing in life. Nothing seemed to work and he had to carry over some courses. He would carry them over till the next session and fail them again. The circle never seemed to end. It took extra effort from friends and loved ones to help him out of the bumpy ride.
How You Can Manage Stress
Maybe I will write a book on stress, titled “Wahala no dey finish” (which is a pidgin-English phrase that means ‘Problems never end’, but for now, I would like to highlight some ways that you can manage stress and keep it under control.
- Learn how to handle the stress in your life
- Have a journal
- Plan your week
- Eat well and sleep
- Remove stress triggers that you can remove
- Learn how to say NO
Learn how to handle the stress in your life:
A large element of dealing with stress has little to do with the stress trigger itself, but rather how you react to it.
A circumstance that one guy navigates with confidence and ease can entirely destabilize another. As a result, learning how to handle the stress in your life is the basic brick in your ability to manage stress. Handling stress refers to how you act and react in the world – your capacity to bounce back swiftly from setbacks and problems, as well as face the world with courage and confidence.
All of the stress-relieving techniques listed here are a waste if you don’t take the bull by the horn and face the situations peculiar to your life.
Exercise Can Help You Manage Stress
Physical activity can help you reduce your overall stress levels and improve your mental and physical well-being. Exercising on a regular basis can improve your mood by reducing the tension, anxiety, irritability, and moderate depression that commonly accompany stress. It can help you sleep better, which can be harmed by stress, despair, and worry. It can also make you feel more confident.
If you’re out of shape or new to exercise, talk to your doctor about which exercises are best for you.
They can assist you in developing a safe and effective workout routine that takes into account your specific condition and fitness level. Consult your doctor about appropriate intensity levels.
Meditation can Help You Reduce Stress
Blood pressure normalizes, breathing and heart rate reduce, and your adrenal glands create less cortisol when you meditate. Furthermore, regular meditation changes the way your brain works and makes you more resilient to stress.
The best part is that you don’t even need to meditate for long periods of time to reap the advantages. Just 20 minutes every day will suffice, and you’ll notice the results in a matter of weeks.
The turmoil of the world is frequently intolerable, and our bodies were not designed to bear the weight of such pressures. It’s no surprise that folks who don’t know Christ are seeking peace, healing, and joy! We are simply incapable of coping with life on our own.
Have a Journal to Manage Stress
Someone who has a journal can clarify their thoughts and feelings, acquiring valuable self-awareness. It’s also an excellent problem-solving tool; on paper, it’s sometimes easier to work through an issue and come up with solutions.
Journaling about traumatic situations aids in the processing of those events by allowing one to completely explore and release the emotions involved, as well as engaging both hemispheres of the brain, allowing the experience to become fully integrated within one’s consciousness.
You may discover that journaling reduces your stress in most cases. If not, don’t be scared to seek professional assistance.
Too many people are stressed and they do not know where to channel the negative energy within them, so most times, some people come online to tweet very weird things, and sometimes, things that should never be disclosed to the public.
I said something about this last year:
Twitter is not your diary. Twitter is not your gallery.
— TOMJOE 🚀 (@akanbitomjoe) December 27, 2020
Plan Your Week to Reduce Stress
Much of the tension I encountered at university was caused by my inability to manage my time well. I’d forget deadlines, put off writing assignments till the last minute, and schedule appointments that interfered with other commitments.
Things significantly improved once I met someone who taught me how to plan my week. Having a weekly schedule will prevent you from forgetting crucial details or overcommitting yourself as I did. Furthermore, having a plan gives you a sense of control, which, as we just discussed, reduces stress.
Eat Well and Sleep
Allow me to say this again, Wahala no dey ever finish. Our bodies and minds require sleep in order to manage and cope with stress, but stress frequently prevents us from obtaining the rest we need!
Before going to bed, remember to turn off the computer and television. The light from electronic screens inhibits the creation of melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep.
Your body needs energy too, so you cannot be having chocolates all day when you are stressed. You won’t get the energy you need to face the situations, and it has been proven that a poor diet can affect your mood.
Remove stress triggers that you can remove
We all desire strong bonds of friendship. We’re usually hunting for them if we don’t already have them, and if we do, we’re attempting to keep them.
Identifying and removing toxic relationships can be difficult, especially when there are confusing signs. People who form toxic connections are frequently skilled manipulators, making it simple to fall into an unhealthy bond without even recognizing it. How to identify toxic friendships.
Learn How to Say No and Live a Stress-Free Life
Overcommitting myself has been a major source of stress in my life. I’d say “yes” to almost anything because
1) I was a people pleaser, and
2) I didn’t want to miss out on anything that could help me achieve my goals.
I’ve had to learn to say “no” after experiencing the burden of managing an overbooked schedule one too many times. Do not be like me. Learn how to say NO now.
Stress is real, a little dose of stress can motivate you to get things done. But chronic stress will affect you negatively. Following the guidelines I have put in this article will definitely help you to overcome stress and anxiety.
If they are not enough, it is OK to seek professional assistance. You can seek help if you are finding it difficult to manage on your own. It’s critical to understand that you can get help right away and that you deserve to be healthy.
Do you have questions? Feel free to ask them in the comments. Did I miss something? Tell us in the comments.