Stress: Reduce It and Re-Use It
Stress: Reduce It and Re-Use It
This post on stress originally appeared on WomenOffshore.org, view the original version here.
Stress. It seems to be ever-present in our daily lives, both at work and at home. It feels like there is always something to be worry over, whether it’s a large assignment, finding balance between life’s demands, the health of a parent, a child who is struggling in school…the list is endless. Doctors will tell you that you need to find ways to reduce stress in your life, because it causes blood pressure to increase. There’s a reason many headaches are diagnosed as stress headaches, I suffer from them myself.
It can pile up…
From a health and wellness viewpoint, it’s a terrible situation. We never get quite enough sleep to carry us through our work day, relying instead on coffee and stimulants to keep us going. Lunch breaks are shortened and food options limited, or maybe you’re stuck eating on the road due to commutes and traveling for work. Responsibilities are ever increasing, leaving us feeling scattered, behind, and STRESSED.
Let’s reduce that stress…
The good thing is, there are ways to combat stress and even to use it. Personally, my favorite ways to combat stress (and its associated headaches) are exercise, simple and enjoyable pastimes, and focusing on my own mental health. These coincide neatly with what healthcare professionals recommend: exercise, sleep, and relaxation techniques.
I call exercise my “barbell therapy”, and find that using that hour of time reaps rewards in both my fitness level and in how well I sleep the next day. Whether it’s doing time on treadmill, lifting weights, or doing yoga, exercise is hugely beneficial in lowering your stress levels. Additionally, exercise can give you that extra boost of energy your body and mind needs to succeed throughout the day, and help you sleep more soundly at night.
My personal relaxation techniques include some time with my favorite TV show. While I watch, I work on one of my “old soul” hobbies: sewing! I also began writing in a journal, just a line a night. But that’s my way of closing out the day and ushering in sleep. Breathing and meditation can be hugely helpful to some. For others, the ticket could be reading a few pages in a favorite novel or magazine. Find a way to help your mind relax, and watch as your stress levels come down. What’s your favorite relaxation technique?
And reuse it for our benefit…
I made a quick mention of how you can use stress rather than combat it. In her TED Talk, in Glasgow, psychologist Kelly McGonigal discussed the importance of how you choose to view stress. Based on her studies, stress is harmful to your health if you believe that it is. Ergo, if you choose to view your body’s reaction to stress (elevated heart rate and blood pressure) as your body rising to the challenge of whatever is causing you stress, you can actually change that reaction.
The other way to use stress is to recognize the benefits of the hormone oxytocin, which is released when you’re feeling stressed. Oxytocin drives a need to seek support, to reach for human contact. This effect of making you social, making you reach for human contact, improves your resilience to stress.
Check out all of Kelly’s discussion on making stress your friend in her TED Talk.
What’s your take?
Do you have methods you employ to reduce stress in your life? Do you have methods like Kelly’s where you use stress? Share them in the comment section, and let’s help women in industry worldwide conquer the stress in their lives.