Are You Still Unsure What is Stress Management?

by Bryan Dewhurst on February 04, 2020

First, let’s figure out what is stress and what is stress management?

Stress can be defined as a three-way relationship between demands on us, our feelings about those demands and our ability to deal with them. Stress is most likely to occur in situations when:

  1. Demands are high.
  2. The amount of control we have is low.
  3. We have limited support or help available to us.

Stress management is a technique that we can use to combat our stress level.

Who is Most Affected by Stress?

Virtually everyone experiences stressful events or situations that overwhelm our natural coping mechanisms. And though some people are biologically more prone to stress, many outside factors  can influence susceptibility as well.

Studies indicate that some people are more vulnerable to the effects of stress than others. Older adults; women in general (especially working mothers and pregnant women); divorced or widowed people; people who are experiencing financial strains such as long-term unemployment; people who are the targets of discrimination; and people who live in cities all seem to be especially susceptible to health-related stress problems.

People who are less emotionally stable or have high anxiety levels tend to experience some events as more stressful than healthy people do. And the lack of an established network of family and friends predisposes us to stress-related health problems such as heart disease and infections. Caregivers, children, and medical professionals are also found frequently to be at a higher risk for stress-related disorders.

Job-related stress is especially likely to be chronic because it is such a large part of our life. Stress reduces a worker’s effectiveness by impairing concentration, causing sleeplessness and increases the risk of illnesses, back problems, accidents and loss of time. At its worst, stress that places a strain on our hearts and circulation can be fatal. The Japanese have a word for sudden death due to overwork: karoushi.

Medical Effects of Chronic Stress

The stress response of the body is like an airplane getting ready for take-off. Virtually all systems, such as the heart and blood vessels, the immune system, the lungs, the digestive system, the sensory organs, and the brain are modified to meet the sensed danger.

A stress-filled life really seems to raise the odds of heart disease and stroke down the road. Researchers have found that after middle-age, those who report chronic stress are faced with a higher risk of fatal or non-fatal heart disease or stroke over the years. We now know that constant stress takes its toll on our arteries, causing chronically high levels of stress hormones and pushing us to maintain unhealthy habits such as smoking.

Stressed-out men are twice as likely as others to die of a stroke. Put it simply, too much stress puts you at risk for health problems. Whether it comes from one event or the buildup of many small events, stress causes major physical alterations that often lead to health problems. Here is a list of some of these changes:

  • Our heart rates increase, to move blood to our muscles and brains.
  • Our blood pressures go up.
  • Our breathing rates increase.
  • Our digestion slows down.
  • Our perspiration increases.

We feel a rush of strength at first, but over time stress makes us feel weak.

These reactions helped our ancestors survive threats by preparing for “fight or flight response.” Today, our bodies still react the same way, but the events that cause stress do not require this ancient mechanism. Stress can also greatly raise our risk of:

  • Digestive disorders and ulcers
  • Migraines
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Backaches
  • Suicide
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Allergies and skin diseases
  • Alcohol and drug dependencies
  • Cancer
  • Depressed immune system
  • Asthma
  • More colds and infections

We have to learn ways to relieve stress, because when it goes on for very long or happens too often, it can obviously cause many serious health problems.

What is Stress Management?

Stress management is defined as the techniques that you use to relieve stress. As you now know, stress is an everyday occurrence that can have a negative long-term effect on our health as well as our overall well-being, what can we do to fight it?

Meditation for stress relief

Is there a more obvious stress relief strategy than to bring your entire physical being to a calming state? Meditation techniques often involve visualizing something calm, like a blank screen or clouds. Or it can also mean clearing your mind entirely. Since stress is caused by how we allow our minds to be captured by worries and fears, then replacing those worries and fears with calmer images is an obvious way to reduce stress.

Exercise to reduce stress

If relaxing to a state where even your blood vessels are almost still is the end-point in stress relief, then exercise, which gets even your blood pumping at fast speed, has to be the ultimate stress demon. Apparently not. Exercise is a big stress reliever. In fact, the bigger the muscles you exercise, the more less stress you will bear. That’s because exercise releases physical tension in the muscles.

Here’s another tip: exercise in water to reduce even more stress.

How come, you ask? Because you are more buoyant in water; gravity takes a much gentler toll on your body, so the tension created in your muscles just by holding you up gets released. For the ultimate stress release, exercise in water. Or meditate in water. Or laugh in water.

Laughter reduces stress, too.

Yes, laughter also relieves stress. The muscles we use to laugh are the more tense ones on our face. When we loosen them up, we release the tension from our faces. We also allow more blood to flow to the pleasure centers of the brain (which could also be why someone with a ‘good sense of humor’ is considered more attractive).

Photo: Freedigitalphotos.net/aechan

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