We hear the term ‘stress’ being thrown around so often, we may not realize that people mean different things when they’re discussing stress. Just what is stress? And what do people mean when they say they are stressed??
What Is Stress?
The term ‘stress’ refers to the response you have when facing circumstances that force you to act, change, or adjust in some way to maintain your footing or to keep things balanced. The circumstances themselves are known as ‘stressors’.
This stress response, also known as the fight-or-flight response, triggers many involuntary changes in your body, which give you an extra burst of energy so that you can fight or run away from perceived threats. This was a helpful response for us in earlier times when most of the stresses we faced were physical. This burst of physical energy was needed to keep us alive in many cases. Nowadays more of our threats are psychological — job stress, relationship stress, financial stress, etc. Our response to stress, which often make us think less clearly, isn’t always necessary or helpful.
When you face stressors often and find that you have little control in these situations, you are at risk of experiencing chronic stress which can affect your health in many negative ways. Having your stress response activated long-term and not getting your body back to a state of relaxation can tax your system, leaving you overstimulated and depleted at the same time. Because chronic stress can lower immunity stress can be a causal or contributing factor to virtually all major illnesses.
Stress Management Basics
No matter what the origin of stress is for you, there are some basic steps you can take to manage the stress that you experience. Try to approach stress from three angles:
1. Quick Stress Relief: Quick stress relievers are not a stress management plan in themselves, they are an excellent first line of defense against the effects of chronic stress. Because they can help you turn off your body’s stress response and respond to the stressors you face from a calm (or calmer), more relaxed place. This helps you to more effectively deal with what is stress, and keep yourself healthier at the same time. Common strategies for quick stress relief include breathing exercises or the use of humor.
2. Address the Situation: This step is a little more individualized, but the way you manage stress is important. When you are stressed and overwhelmed you are not always in the best position to solve problems. Once you find yourself in a calmer place, you can work on addressing what’s causing stress in your life.
Relationship stress? Try learning some healthy communication strategies or assertive communication skills.
Job stress? Learn to find job satisfaction at your current job, or take steps toward moving to a new one.
Money stress? You can handle that, too, with some stress management techniques and financial advice resources.
3. Long-Term Stress Management: An important part of a stress management plan is having some regular activities in your life that replenish you and help you become more resilient in facing what is stress in your daily life. Rather than waiting until you’re overwhelmed by stress, if you make certain stress-relieving activities a habit, you’ll be less reactive to stressors when you experience them, and you’ll be more able to handle them when you face them. Some of these habits include meditation, exercise, and regular practice of having fun. You can also learn strategies to become more emotionally resilient.
Massage for Stress
Massage therapy is a proven way for stress sufferers to seek relief. Along with rebalancing your hormones, massage therapy releases muscle tension. When you’re stressed, your muscles tighten in response, and when the stress ends, your muscles generally relax. But if you’re constantly stressed, it’s likely your muscles can stay slightly, permanently tensed. If it continues, you may experience joint aches and pains, headaches and neck pains.
We all lead busy lives in an increasingly busy world. Don’t let it affect your physical or mental health. Body & Soul Massage has Stress Relief and Monthly Massage Packages available. Call today to schedule your next soothing massage and let us melt your stress away!
Body & Soul Massage 978-825-0040 www.bodysoulsalem.com Salem Ma
Want to learn more about stress and sleep? Visit our friends at sleepadvisor.org