Stress and Easy Ways to Cope With It

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Urban dwellers, career-focused people, and active individuals who want to be able to cope with everything are all dreaming of a permanent stress reliever. High stress reduces productivity, making you watch Netflix or play games after creating a Hellspin login instead of working, but it can also lead to health problems. Let’s find out why we shouldn’t be afraid of stress and learn the right techniques to combat it, taking into account the stage of the reaction.

Stages of Stress

If you are alive you are likely to be under stress – it’s a normal and natural part of life – a set of unspecific adaptational reactions of the body to the effects of unfavorable factors. According to research by Hans Sellier, who formulated the concept of stress, the human reaction to stress is similar to that experienced by mice.

Stress reactions are characterized by clear stages that help us understand the processes occurring in the body:

1. The first stage of stress is the anxiety response, which every person over the age of two is familiar with. The subjective components of this reaction are anxiety, concern, nervousness associated with the stressor. The person directs attention to the problem, and adaptive resources are mobilized. The hypothalamus, through a number of mediating metabolites, triggers a reaction of adrenaline and cortisol production of stress hormones. Therefore, at this moment, in addition to subjective psychological sensations, blood pressure and blood sugar levels often increase. When a person starts walking aimlessly around a confined room and rubbing random objects in his hands – know that this work of adrenaline turns on the sympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system, triggering physiological “hit” or “run” reactions and mobilizing the body for action. Even when physical activity is limited – on an airplane or in a meeting – the twitching and jerking begins. Normally, this reaction does not last long – the “period of action” of adrenaline is no more than 15 minutes. This time is enough to discharge the reaction, restore the body to its factory settings and normalize the emotional background. Biochemical analysis of the hormonal profile in this phase shows an increase in adrenaline and cortisol, as well as normal levels of the DHEA hormone (dehydroepiandrosterone).

2. If the stress factor is not leveled, the stress response doesn’t end with a physical action, the resistance stage starts, in which the body tries to adapt and resist the stress factor. During the resistance stage, the parasympathetic autonomic system starts to roll back the reaction – pulse and breathing calm down, blood pressure normalizes. These indicators come back to normal, but the body retains a certain wariness because the stress factor hasn’t disappeared. On the psychological level, this is often accompanied by the reaction: “I can cope, I understand that it’s terrible, but I will cope!” In terms of the hormonal profile, the picture will be as follows: elevated cortisol levels and lowered DHEA levels. The danger is that this reaction on the psychological level is capable of narrowing the angle of view, giving a tunnel vision: the person is focused on the fact of stress affecting him, and solving the problem and saving resources becomes the priority. This leads to a decrease in libido, a change in autonomic manifestations.

3. If a person fails to cope with the second stage of stress, exhaustion sets in: the body runs out of strength to produce adaptive resources, there is a loss of ability to cope with the stressor and even the maintenance of life. At this stage, stress-related psychosomatic illnesses can occur, as well as problems with the cardiovascular and digestive systems. The hormonal profile of saliva at this stage is characterized by low levels of cortisol – the body has exhausted the resources to synthesize this hormone, normal or low levels of DHEA.

How to Relieve Stress at the Stage of Anxiety

At the stage of anxiety, it’s extremely difficult to start relaxing breathing techniques – making an effort by lengthening the exhalation. The first action to help relieve stress caused by a momentary factor, when the reaction lasts longer than the situation itself, to achieve discharge is to physically release the adrenaline boil. Again, adrenaline is a simple molecule; its purpose is simply to make you move, no matter where or why. And if you don’t take action during 15 minutes of activation, there are unpleasant consequences: the blood vessels were preparing for activity, but it didn’t happen – so cardiovascular disease develops.

Here’s how to defuse sympathetic reactions:

  1. Breathe vigorously – put your arms around your shoulders, take a couple of forced inhalations and exhalations, taking sharp strong breaths.
  2. Move – a walk or jog, a “Shake” exercise that makes the body vibrate and release tension will do. Ideally, go to the gym at the end of a hard day’s work.
  3. Bring the tension to the maximum – quickly squeeze the muscles of the whole body until they shudder, the muscles will relax on their own, having exhausted the opportunity to stay in tension. The perfect exercise for this is the Plank.
  4. Find something to splash out stress – throw the ball against the wall, unless, of course, it would not bother the neighbor or boss occupying the next office. Be creative, splashing out passions, but don’t make others uncomfortable.

When your hands stop shaking and your knees stop trembling, the motor charge is realized – it’s time for subtle regulatory mechanisms, such as social support. When you share, you heal – interaction with others destroys the loneliness and isolation that grows around a person who is under stress. Rule #1 is to help the person overcome social isolation and let them know that you feel the same or have felt similar. Supporting each other is equal to supporting yourself, and shared grief is half the grief.

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