In the last blog post we touched upon stress and why it’s beneficial to reduce as much stress as possible from your day-to-day life. In this post, we’re going to go a bit more in-depth to help you understand what stress is, what it does, and when it becomes harmful.
Stress In Daily Life
Back in our ancestors days, before our societies started seperating ourselves from wild life as much as possible, stress was important. Stress triggers the “fight or flight” mechanism. Stress would have saved our ancestors lives by telling them to run and hide or get ready to attack when a predatory animal or enemy approached. In attacks, the stress would provide increased strength.
But in today’s world, most of our stress is brought on by our jobs, cost of living rising, family disputes, and accidents. Most of which are not life threatening incidents. Our bodies, however, don’t know the difference. Any type of stress all triggers the same response from our bodies. A simple argument, work deadline, or piling bills, could trigger the same response as a life-or-death situation.
Cases where stress is beneficial would be when it keeps you alert and on your toes at work, especially during meetings. But beyond a certain point, stress can damage your health, mood, productivity, relationships, and your overall quality of life.
Unfortunately, the more frequently our bodies emergency stress system is activated, the easier it is to trigger and the harder it becomes to turn off.
If you get stressed out frequently, your body may be in a heightened state of stress most of the time. And that can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can suppress your immune system, upset your digestive and reproductive systems, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speed up the aging process. It can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
I don’t know what your life looks like, but I’ve been stressing mine for a very long time. It got to the point where I was having at least one mini-heart attack or mini-stroke every year since my mid-20’s. My life went from simply worrying about bills getting paid to worrying about everything. I was jealous of some and envious of others. I was almost embarrassed to admit where I worked and what my job was.
It was literally the end of the world if something as simple as a flat tire happened or a lightbulb blew with no replacement bulbs in the closet. I literally couldn’t handle it. This is what happens when we allow stress to take over our lives – it develops into chronic stress and other illnesses. Granted chronic stress may have hit me as young as it did and severe as it did, because I also have other pre-existing conditions that fed my stress. The stress in turn fed those conditions. But the severity I dealt with could happen to anyone as the chronic stress gets worse and other conditions develop, creating the same vicious cycle my mind went through. These other conditions could be physical, mental, or both.
Here are some symptoms of stress overload:
- Memory problems
- Inability to concentrate
- Poor judgment
- Seeing only the negative
- Anxious or racing thoughts
- Constant worrying
- Depression or general unhappiness
- Anxiety and agitation
- Moodiness, irritability, or anger
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Loneliness and isolation
- Other mental or emotional health problems
- Aches and pains
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Nausea, dizziness
- Chest pain, rapid heart rate
- Loss of sex drive
- Frequent colds or flu
- Eating more or less
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Withdrawing from others
- Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
- Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
- Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)
Most people think stressors are only negative factors. Such as arguments, getting fired, bills piling up, accidents, rough work schedule, etc. But stressors could also be positive. Such as getting married, buying a house, or getting a promotion. Stress is also caused by pessimistic views on life and worry about what may or may not happen.
What causes you stress also depends on your perception of it. Something that’s stressful to you may not be to someone else. For example, some thrive in the spotlight while others cringe at the idea of public speaking.
Too Much Stress?
Some people seem to be able to roll with life’s punches, while others tend to crumble in the face of small obstacles or frustrations. Some people even thrive on the excitement of a high-stress lifestyle. Everyone has different stress levels they can tolerate, and different reasons for these varying levels.
There’s nothing inherently wrong, or laughable, about those inviduals who fall to pieces in the most minor of circumstances. They could be reacting to stress in that way because of how they grew up, it could be triggering a traumatic experience they went through, or it could simply be the icing on the cake that set them off. What ever the situation, however small, could be just enough that put them over the level of stress they can deal with. I know, this was me.
But I can guarantee that those people who are able to deal with stress and just let it roll off their backs are leading much happier and more fulfilling lives than those who let everything get to them. If you happen to be one who stresses every little thing, it is possible to relieve that stress and be much happier and healthier.
Factors that influence your stress tolerance level include:
- Your support network. A strong network of supportive friends and family members is a buffer against stress. When you have people you can count on, life’s pressures don’t seem as overwhelming. On the other hand, the lonelier and more isolated you are, the greater your risk of succumbing to stress.
- Your sense of control. If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, it’s easier to take stress in stride. On the other hand, if you believe that you have little control over your life, stress is more likely to knock you off course.
- Your attitude and outlook. The way you look at life and its inevitable challenges makes a huge difference in your ability to handle stress. If you’re generally hopeful and optimistic, you’ll be less vulnerable. Stress-hardy people tend to embrace challenges, have a stronger sense of humor, believe in a higher purpose, and accept change as an inevitable part of life.
- Your ability to deal with your emotions. If you don’t know how to calm and soothe yourself when you’re feeling sad, angry, or troubled, you’re more likely to become stressed and agitated. Having the ability to identify and deal appropriately with your emotions can increase your tolerance to stress and help you bounce back from adversity.
- Your knowledge and preparation. The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the easier it is to cope. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-op, a painful recovery will be less stressful than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately.
Improving your ability to handle stress:
Connect to others. The simple act of talking face-to-face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve stress when you’re feeling agitated or insecure. Even just a brief exchange of kind words or a friendly look from another human being can help calm and soothe your nervous system. So spend time with people who make you feel good and don’t let your responsibilities keep you from having a social life. If you don’t have any close relationships, or your relationships are the source of your stress, make it a priority to build stronger and more satisfying connections.
Eat a healthy diet. The food you eat can improve or worsen your mood and affect your ability to cope with life’s stressors. Eating a diet full of processed and convenience food, refined carbohydrates, and snacks full of added sugars can worsen symptoms of stress; while eating a diet rich in fresh non-GMO and organic fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a properly formulated multi-vitamin, can help you better cope with life’s ups and downs.
You can’t completely eliminate stress from your life, but you can control how much it affects you. The less overall stress affects you, the healthier you will be and feel.
To help relieve stress, improve mental clarity, among other benefits, I recommend our nootropic coffee (also available in chocolate). You may get better results with the complete D.O.S.E. (coffee or chocolate plus xanthamax). More info on the coffee, chocolate, and xanthamax may be found here.
I’ve tried many things to help relieve my stress. The only thing that truly helps is the nootropic coffee that has been dubbed happy coffee. One cup in the morning is all it takes. Though you also need to work on changing your perception of stressors you can’t eliminate from your day-to-day life, and get rid of as many stressors as you can.
I also recommend any one of the following along with the nootropic coffee or chocolate:
- Stress Relief TCM
The supplements may be found here. Just type the product name into the search bar on the page that opens.
If you are able to work on your perception of stressors, start being more positive about life in general, and use these supplements to help promote a healthy brain and calm mind, I can guarantee you will begin to see a less stressful life. Through less stress, you will begin to see all that your life offers that you’ve been missing out on by allowing yourself to be overly stressed everyday.
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