Stress. It’s an unavoidable part of life. Every day we face someone or something that will cause us stress (a traffic jam, moving house, getting married, winning the lottery, a noisy neighbour, the boss being a grouch), but is stress all bad? The answer to the question is “No” with a qualified “Yes”.
When we face a situation in which we feel threatened, we experience a physiological reaction: we tense up, our hear beats fast and pumps blood to our extremities (i.e. our arms and legs), we get butterflies in our stomachs and we become more alert. This is the good side of stress. It is the standard “Fight or Flight” mode as we perceive whether something or someone is a threat to our safety and well-being. This is the basics of self-preservation. Once we deem something to be not a threat, or the threat passes, then we feel our bodies relaxing (the technical term for this is “homeostasis” where our bodies reach an equlibirium)
The danger lies in our inability to relax once the threat has passed. As we face more and more stressful situations, we can find that it affects our ability to relax. We may find that we do not reach the level of relaxation that we used to when faced with stress (that is we no longer return to the same “homeostatic level” as we used to). This is the bad side of stress. When our bodies and our mind can not relax, then it leads mental illness (worry, depression, anxiety) and also it affects our physical health (our immune system becomes weaker, we age quicker and we are prone to die at a younger age).
There is good news though, you can learn to relax and you can also learn how to cope under stressful conditions! There are many different techniques that can be used: breathing techniques, body-scanning, deep relaxation, meditation and visualisation just to name a few. I use all these techniques. When I find that I am becoming stressed, I start doing breathing exercises. The other week I was facing a stressful situation and so I did some mediation with a combination of deep relaxation. Trust me! It works and over the next few weeks I will give you a variety of different techniques and exercises that you can use in order to de-stress, relax and enjoy life!