• Identifying the causes
• Using special techniques in order to regain balance
• Reducing the time it takes for our bodies to react to internal or external stress factors
No matter what we do in life, we sometimes get stressed. A recent study by Reader’s Digest carried out in 15 European countries has proved that Romanians have achieved a spectacular counter-performance: when it comes to stress, we are 1st in Europe: 52% Romanians believe that stress is the main cause for health disorders, compared to the European average of 33%.
Hans Selye who dedicated his life to studying stress concluded his research in 1956 stating that stress IS NOT necessarily negative; characterizing stress as positive or negative depends on the situation. To a certain extent, stress is actually necessary, for example when it comes to our own protection. For instance in case of a car accident we use the resources available in our entire body in order to try to avoid it. In this case we are dealing with positive stress, since we are talking about a stressful situation where stress can be observed by the body’s typical reactions: the heart beats faster, the brain receives more oxygen, our muscles tense up, etc., but the result is a positive one.
Sustained stress, on the other hand, causes exhaustion, hair loss, insomnia, high blood pressure and heart disease, the decay of the immune system, obesity, sexual dysfunctions, etc.
There are several sources of stress.
You may have a quiet, stable life, but then something unexpected happens (it could be something minor like scratching your car), and all of a sudden you feel stressed out. This type of stress is external. Other types of external stress are work-related stress, relationship problems and conflicts, certain family situations or events (marriage, a death in the family, divorce) and financial difficulties.
Some people experience stress-related feelings just by thinking of such an event and in this case we are dealing with internal stress, the cause coming solely from within ourselves. Even after the event has passed some of us continue to think about it for days, therefore intensifying our stress-related emotions.
Stress may also be caused by emotional or physical factors. For instance sometimes women who cannot have children start to feel stressed out wondering “Why is this happening to me?”.
Happy events can also influence our stress levels. Such events can be marriage, birth, buying a new house or getting a promotion.
Some early symptoms of stress are difficulties concentrating, anxiousness, headaches, infertility, ulcer, low or high blood pressure, sudden weight loss or weight gain, repeated colds, muscular aches, hair loss, chest pain, high cholesterol, chronic fatigue, etc. It is very important to recognize the causes and symptoms of stress and to replace them with a healthy lifestyle as soon as possible.
• Are you feeling anxious and don’t know why?
• Are you having difficulties trying to maintain a relationship?
• Are you constantly feeling guilty?
• Do you keep “re-playing” past incidents or problems in your mind?
It’s time you looked for solutions!
1. The alarm: this is set by psychological mechanisms: the body produces adrenaline to fight stress and to regain control, the heart begins to beat faster, we are breathing faster, our muscles get more tensed - these reactions are meant to protect us.
2. Adaptation: if stress persists after the alarm “goes off”, in step two we are dealing with adaptation by means of releasing hormones as a response to long-term stress stimuli. Tiredness, irritability, lack of concentration can occur should adaptation last for a longer period of time without being balanced out by periods of relaxation.
3. Physical and mental exhaustion occur in the third phase, the body loses its energy reserves and its immunity, and illness is triggered.
Fortunately several ways of managing prolonged stress are available to us. These will help us remain calm even in high-pressure situations:
• The ability to act - we act to change the cause of stress, often by changing the environment or the situation itself;
• Emotional abilities – we use these when we lack the strength to change the situation but we can change the way we interpret the situation and the emotions or feelings we have associated with it;
• The ability to accept - when we deal with situations we cannot change or we when we can’t control our feelings, we must focus on how to cope with stress.
Here are some ways of attaining well-being:
• Learn to say NO
• Plan your time and your work, make an everyday list of priorities
• Finish the work you’ve started before taking up something else
• Take regular breaks – 10 minutes every 2 hours, practice meditation and deep breathing
• Learn to recognize your own stress symptoms and the cause of stress
• Acknowledge the situations that you cannot change and use your energy towards situations that you can influence
• Be positive
• Keep your sense of humour
• Learn to express your anger in a constructive manner by turning it into performance
• Walk at least 20 minutes a day
• Keep a stress diary
"To live an untroubled day of relaxation is to live an immortal day."
- Chinese proverb-
If you are dealing with stress, there are several ways to works things out:
1. Change your way of thinking! How?
• Re-evaluate the situation, be aware of the fact that every situation can be interpreted in various ways;
• Practise positive thinking, focus on your qualities, not on your weaknesses. Doing this will actually help you search for opportunities.
• Learn something from every stressful situation.
2. Change your behaviour! How?
• Be assertive, organized, with a sense of humour, etc.
3. Change the way you live! How?
• Find the diet best suited for you, practise sports, meditation, breathing techniques, walk in nature, do hydrotherapy, therapy through music, use relaxation techniques, Reiki, visualization techniques, etc.
Within normal limits anger can be a healthy feeling which instinctively helps us detect a threatening situation and take action accordingly. Moreover, when properly focused, anger can turn into a strong motivational force.
Nevertheless, anger can become a destructive feeling which leads to our losing control; it then affects our personal and professional life and has serious consequences on our self-esteem and happiness.
People experience anger in different ways; that which is annoying to some people may be only irritating to others or may not have any effect at all.
It is important to learn to manage anger in a positive way, to learn how to calm down and how to eliminate negative feelings.
A few recommendations to help you calm down:
- Make a list with everything that triggers feelings of anger; only if you are already aware of the cause that leads to you to being angry, will you be able to direct anger as needed; you cannot change what you do not know.
2. Let the important people in your life know that you would like to change and accept their support.
3. Use anger management techniques. There are simple and easy to apply techniques, such as allowing yourself a break, practicing deep breathing or other more complex techniques with an immediate effect.
4. Use empathy. When another person is the source of your anger try to see the situation from their point of view and remember that anybody can make mistakes.
5. Use your sense of humour. Learn to laugh at your own mistakes. Laughter is the best cure.
6. Learn to relax.
7. Trust yourself and get other people to trust you.
8. Learn to listen. Sometimes lack of communication leads to confusing situations.
9. Let your goals and expectations be known to others.
10. Live each day as if it were the last. This will make you realize that it is better to live a positive life.
11. Learn forgiveness.
“In life one learns first to walk and to speak. Later he learns to sit and keep his mouth shut.”
- Marcel Pagnol-