Stress In A Nutshell


Stress is part of life. Quite often life is a balancing act, and when you lose your ability to juggle all the different components, that is when stress can hit you. Some people seem to constantly worry while others appear to sail through life without any stress at all. How can you manage to control the level of stress you experience in your life?

What is stress?

According to the Mountain State Center for Independent Living, “Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be caused by both good and bad experiences. When people feel stressed by something going on around them, their bodies react by releasing chemicals into the blood. These chemicals give people more energy and strength, which can be a good thing if their stress is caused by physical danger. But this can also be a bad thing, if their stress is in response to something emotional and there is no outlet for this extra energy and strength.” This means that stress is your body’s way of coping with changes in your life. It is how your body responds to anything disruptive to your normal life. The causes can be positive or negative; the stress can be great or minor. It all depends upon your ability to cope and your coping mechanisms.

Dealing with stress

When you feel stressed, your adrenaline starts to flow. You experience the sense of “fight or flight” panic that is symptomatic of negative stress. Positive stress is one that you experience but in which you have some control. For example, even a wonderful situation like a first kiss, an engagement or the birth of a child can be stressful in the best possible way, as you have to find a way to change to accommodate this event. A good analogy can be found when observing folks on a steep roller coaster ride. Some hunch down in the back seat, clenching their jaws and shutting their eyes to the thrill ride, hanging on for dear life to the restraining bar. These people just want to be back on solid ground. Others in the front are often wide-eyed with excitement, throwing up their hands at every dip and yelling during the ride up and plunge downward. Everyone experiences stress differently.

Coping Mechanisms

In the above analogy, the passengers in the front of the roller coaster feel in control – usually they choose to be there because they have ridden the ride before. They know what the experience is like and they relish in it. Those in the back are locked at the tail end of the experience and feel as though they have less control. This causes them to experience more stress in a situation that, to others, is really fun. When you feel out of control, or that you are no longer in control of how things will pan out, that’s when your stress level begins to increase.

Coping with stress may include taking note of your stressors: What sets you off and how do you cope with it? Do you hide or do you face it straight-on, taking a deep breath before you look it in the face? This is where breathing exercises and self-relaxation techniques can come into play. The main thing is to learn to deal with stress and accept it as part of life rather than spending all your energy fighting it. Learn to recognize it, explore ways to cope with it and find how to overcome the worst symptoms. If you can see stress as a way to grow as a person, to learn about yourself and the way you handle situations, it may be easier each time stress hits you unexpectedly.