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  • Writer's pictureSharon Gaza


Stress is the number one cause of disease and illness. While stress is a normal part of living, and even has its positive qualities, too much stress puts a strain on the health of the individual. Let’s look at the different types of stress.

Good stress comes about from situations such as applying for a job you really want, trying to finish a joyful project on time, awaiting the birth of a child, and so on. These types of good stressors are usually short-lived and help you with the task at hand. The stress of wanting the job pushes you to dress professionally, recall your manners, and really put your best face forward. Good stress makes us feel optimistic, happy, joyful, excited.

Acute Stress arises from situations that aren’t so joyful. Such as almost getting in a car accident, you can’t find your wallet, you are running late for an appointment. It may linger a bit after the situation changes, but it does eventually go away.

Chronic stress is when the stressor stays around for longer periods of time. You can’t find a job to pay your bills, you are living in an abusive household, you are dealing with serious health issues, and so on.

Our body reacts to stress with the Fight or Flight Response. Let’s imagine you are walking through the woods and a bear appears on the path before you. The Fight or Flight Response kicks in because you will either need to fight the bear or take flight from the bear. In both scenarios, you will experience an adrenaline rush. Your muscles will tense, heart rate will increase, and blood pressure will rise. Your breathing will become rapid and shallow, and your digestion will slow.

If we see the bear has decided it isn’t interested in us and continues on its way, we know the danger has passed. Our muscles relax, heart rhythm slows, our blood pressure lowers once again, and we continue on our way.

Now let’s look at a different scenario. The bear leaves, but another bear appears. And another. These bears can take on different forms such as job, family, housing, transportation, health, wealth or lack thereof. Even good stress, on a long-term level, can become bad. You can absolutely love your job, but if it requires you to

put everything else on hold and spend long hours at it, not getting enough exercise, a healthy diet, or other forms of joy, you will begin to feel the effects of bad stress.

When stress becomes a cycle, stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol maintain high levels in the bloodstream so only a small amount of stress is needed to trigger the fight or flight reaction. We have all met or been that person who has a hair-trigger temperament, going off on even the most minor of issues.

This can lead to:



*Muscle aches and pains

*Brain fog


*Increased risk of cardiovascular event



Of course, dealing with all those health issues brings on… you guessed it- more stress! Which is why it is so important to reduce the stress in our lives. Sometimes, this can be as simple as changing your daily routine, finding a new job, or leaving a toxic relationship. In instances where removing the stressor is out of our control, we need to learn how to manage it. There are several ways to do this.

One way is to seek counseling. Speaking with a trained professional can help us see ways of releasing some of the stress we hadn’t thought of before. They can help with methods such as hypnotherapy or biofeedback.

Receiving regular massages can be helpful as well. Massage helps by relaxing the muscles, slowing the heart rate, and increasing blood and lymph circulation to flush out toxic build-up of stress hormones. The adrenal glands slow down, breathing slows down and deepens, and a sense of calm is restored to the body.

Finding a creative hobby to take our focus away from our stressors can help short term.

Other ways include-



Friendship Activities

It’s important to take the time to connect with our bodies and emotions. Many people don’t realize they are stressed because they love what is stressing them. You see this a lot in workaholics who really do love their work and the passion and commitment it requires. If they took the time to unplug, unwind, and tune in towards themselves, they might realize how stressed out they have become.

Which brings me to meditation. Meditation is a wonderful tool to tune into yourself, slow down, and ground yourself into a more blissful way of being. It doesn’t have to be a challenging practice, with legs in full lotus position, and mind emptying out. You can find plenty of guided meditations in group settings, or online, that are geared towards helping with sleep, depression, self-esteem, worry, and so on. One of my favorite free sites is the Insight Timer app. Or simply take time each day to sit peacefully, eyes shut, and just breathe.

Physical Yoga is also a great way to de-stress, and it doesn’t require that you turn yourself into a pretzel. There are various teachings of yoga, and you can find a beginner’s class either in person or online. Look for ones that advertise Gentle Yoga or Hatha Yoga.

For me, some of my favorite ways to combat stress are reading, writing, walking, gardening, meditation and laughing. What about you?

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