Stress is sometimes called „The silent killer“. While it may not directly cause death, it can trigger a number of diseases and make any other disease worse. Stress and stress-related illnesses cause corporations huge losses so many companies a liable for these and have stress-reducing measures in place. So, some education around how stress works can help alleviate stress and spare suffering and expenses.

Some effects of stress

Weight-gain
Stress makes people put on weight buy triggering Cortisol and enlarging the fat cells. Also, eating as a stress-coping reaction makes weight-control more difficult.
Sleep-disturbances
Sleep is massively disturbed by stress level. In addition, the ability to deal with new stress is diminished so that a vicious cycle develops.
High blood pressure and strokes
Stress makes blood pressure go up and thickens the blood. The chances of blood vessels bursting or causing blood clogs increases too.

 

Some causes of stress

Perception
From an evolutionary point of view, stress is a survival mechanism. At times of physical danger, our whole biochemistry changes to make us deal with it. In our modern society though, we are almost never exposed to this kind of physical stress any more. Compared to the past, we are relatively safe. Stress though is caused just as much by perceived danger. The perception may not be accurate and we get stressed just the same. The way to counteract this is to learn to stress when reality warrants it in the moment. Anticipating stresses that are not in the moment is useful only when preparing for something in order to avoid dangers. Learning to see the upside of things works wonders as well. In this sense an obstacle may turn out to be a shortcut not previously seen.

Feeling out of control
We get stressed by feeling as if we are not in the driving seat of our lives. The cause may be something or someone we perceive as an obstacle. The proportions of the obstacle does not matter. It is our ability to handle it, that does. The more stressed we are, the more we perceive the world as hostile which augments the perceived proportions of the obstacle. Developing a sense of control of a situation is therefore crucial when handling stress.

Money and time management
Money causes more stress in our world than pretty much anything else. Many people earn a good income and are still constantly in debt. Helping them change their relationship to money and reducing the money-related stress reduces the levels of overall stress immensely.
Time-management is a skill that can be learned. It has more to do with focus and attention management than with allocating the 24 h we have to tasks. Learning to prioritize, to delegate, to ask for help, all these reduce the anxiety that goes with the race against time.

Feeling in control of one‘s money and time is often all that is required to reduce stress levels.

The stress-management measures discussed so far require some education and mental work. Revising daily routines and installing healthier habits where necessary can also be a huge source of relief from stress.

Habits and daily routines

Diet
Eating the wrong kinds of things stresses our system out as the body needs to work harder to cleanse itself. Energy is used up that can be better used towards other life stresses. See a nutritionist to to see what you are doing right or wrong and balance your diet to best meet your needs.

Exercise
Movement has a huge amount of health benefits. And it is not only about the gym or weight-lifting machines. Any kind of movement will do, even walking your dog. Anything that raises your body temperature causes a hormonal surge and elevates the heart beat. This has a huge impact in terms of health and well-being. The hormones that come with stress are broken down through exercise and converted from harm-causing to beneficial. The important thing is not to overdo exercising because this in itself causes stress. Perfection is not required, all it takes to have right amount of benefits is some relatively healthy exercise with fun things like dancing.

Socializing and hobbies
Hanging around with people you like, doing things that feel safe and fun, such activities have huge stress-busting effects! Find out what lifts you up and join communities that value the same things and have fun together. Laughter is a phenomenal medicine for all kinds of problems. It breaks down the chemistry of stress hormones, magically breaks down anxiety and changes our perspective on things. Get more of it!

Self-expression
Things like keeping a diary or meditating in solitude allow people to express their emotions in a safe way and to put things into perspective. Being honest and compassionate with oneself helps one stay grounded in reality and resolves the stressful aspects of perception. Make time for such activities on a daily basis! Ten minutes a day suffice to reset your mind and restore calm.

Any of these stress-busting measures can reduce the overall levels of stress with increasing effects. And here is the thing: make a change first and see what happens rather than wait to figure things out for a breakthrough insight. As a wise man said once: change will lead to insights much more often than insight will lead to change! So, start from what feels most fun, make a change and and see how the effects spill over to other life spheres you may feel stressed about! The insights will follow!

For starters, you may want o listen to my audio for deep relaxation and self-esteem!

© Teodora Rudolph. All rights reserved 2017, Zürich, Switzerland