Stress is something that is underlooked in today’s world, where life seems to be on the fast track. There are issues that affect us on a physical, mental, and emotional level which I think are quite important to give attention to. This post will be focusing on just that, in relation to stress, anxiety, and other conditions we hear about and may not know the depth of. Although life has seemingly become fast-moving, mainly due to the advances of technology, I find that people, myself most definitely included, find that our bodies must also keep up with the same pace that life is at.
Although yes, from the aspect of productivity and mainly from a business aspect, we are expected to all give a high-quality product or service so that consumers would be satisfied by both the end result as well as the fast delivery, I think it is important to take a look at the long-term costs that we may have to face when we push ourselves harder than we should.
Stress – What it does and How to cope
What is Stress?
I refer to Stress as a silent trigger because its’ progression creeps upon us and we only get to feel the real toll it has on us once things have gone out of hand. Stress on its own is a mix of emotional and mental elements. When not given attention, these will result in a physical manifestation. From my experience, I would break down stress into 3 different stages.
Stages of Stress
You have the first stage which is least noticeable as it is the stage where the stress level begins to rise. At this stage, I would say it could even be considered healthy to a point, as you are pushing yourself just a little above your normal state which gives you just the right amount of adrenaline and bursts of enthusiasm to keep you going positively towards achieving your goal.
The second stage is when you begin to balance between the healthy levels of stress and the levels which exceed that state and may begin to work against your health. At this stage you may begin experiencing certain issues such as; not being able to focus, not getting a proper night’s rest, being unable to completely plug out from work mode, prioritizing the goal over all other aspects of your life, putting your family and social life aside, possibly forgetting to eat, or not having much of an appetite, putting aside any routines you would normally have which would motivate you or allow you to de-stress, for example, a hobby or even hitting the gym.
This brings us to the third stage, the unhealthy stage at which you have mentally and emotionally exhausted yourself and now your body is sending you some serious, red flashing, warning signs of physical symptoms of stress. Going back to the title of this post, this is why I call stress a silent trigger. It is silent, as you never quite expect how much harm overriding your system can actually harm you in the long term and it is a trigger because once you reach the third stage, your body starts sending you physical signals to slow the heck down. These signals, most commonly, may result in you becoming ill or triggering a certain condition which you genetically may have been prone to but was only ‘activated’ when your body has reached its point of exhaustion.
Regardless of how healthy you are today, or what a healthy lifestyle you may be living, none of us are perfect. We are all a combination of genetic code that has been bundled up together to create this matrix of who we are as individuals. All of us carry certain genes which as a result leave us prone to certain conditions that may appear over time or maybe triggered when our bodies have become worn out.
I have always been fascinated with the way the body works, if you look at it from an aside, you will notice just how delicate it is and how one element, for instance; a tiny germ, can cause a total breakdown of the entire organism. Until recently I have pondered on entering the field, as I come from a long line of doctors and always envisioned myself in this field. But life has brought other options to me. Nonetheless, I still think it is important to give attention to certain things, and stress being one of them.
Understanding the way stress can effect us
Stress is not something you can rid yourself of. It is not a condition or virus one can simply take an antidote against it. It is part of who we are, and small doses may even be helpful to us. But like everything in life, without balance, everything can go out of hand.
No job, no goal, and no situation is worth the price of you to end up having to deal with long-term consequences which will result in you having a life with additional stress. And any physical, mental, or emotional condition or state will inevitably end up adding even more stress on you which will result in you not being able to focus and enjoy life.
Post – Stress
From my experience, I have realized that the hardest part is what I refer to as the Post- Stress state. This is when the main stress element is no longer present, and even though you mentally have reached your end goal and you may even feel relieved emotionally, your body, however, is still functioning at the rate it was going during the peak of the stressful period. If you were to imagine an extremely large and powerful machine, that was switched on to its maximum power, which is then suddenly switched off, this machine will not automatically turn off in an instant. It needs time to speed down and turn off. Looking at your body, a similar situation happens.
When your body is used to working at a certain tempo and especially when it is getting worn out, even if the main stressor that caused your body to work at such a rate is eliminated, your body does not simply turn off and heal. It needs time to adjust its sails and needs to be given even more time to repair. At this stage, I have experienced that the biggest toll of stress is felt. When your body is still buzzing even though it has no reason to be, whilst continuing to wear itself out, even though you consciously know that there is no reason for it to be in such a state.
3 Tips on De-stressing and Refocusing
No matter how many times you may have experienced stressful moments in life when facing the next, it is very easy to slide back into that situation. It definitely helps to plan and prepare yourself before entering into a new project which deep down you already know may take you down this path once again.
Here are 3 things I have discovered for myself which help me de-stress, as well as refocus:
1. Have a main goal in life that will allow you to bring yourself back mentally whenever facing a decision.
I find that this kind of goal does not need to be a concrete physical goal, for example, to buy a car. I set my goal which leaves me many options, but at the same time, I know exactly what sort of outcome I am aiming for. To me, my main goal in life is Happiness, and happiness to me means to be able to experience life to the fullest, to learn all that I can while I can, to have my loved ones healthy and happy, and to help when I can.
When faced with a decision, I ask myself how this decision will work with my life goal. If I see that there is a chance that it may interfere, or break my goal then I proceed accordingly. My life goal is what sets the rules in my life, which I follow. This helps me keep grounded and I can always count on my goal to bring me back to what truly matters to me, should I find myself in a situation where I feel lost about which path to take.
2. Give yourself 15 to 30 mins to zoom out.
Zoom out time basically means to place yourself in an environment (this can be physical or mental), where you clear your mind and then focus on certain aspects you would like to tackle. I normally do this in the mornings, since I am not a morning person and I need to really get my head focused in the mornings. I just give myself 10 to 15 minutes in the morning while enjoying my coffee to have a clear mind and begin to slowly build a to-do list in my mind for the day or maybe just for that morning. It is important to note that anything which may stress you out at this point, needs to be pushed away from your mind. This is time for you to relax and focus. You can’t relax or focus if you have troubling thoughts. If you have an issue you need to deal with which is pressing and is also bringing along a sense of stress or anxiety, break it down in your mind into small tasks. I have done this before and I found that it always helps to break down a large problem or task into smaller tasks, even if those tasks are just in your mind. Breaking down something big into smaller pieces gives our mind the illusion of the small tasks being more approachable than that large issue, when in reality, if you follow through with all the little tasks, you, in fact, have faced the big issue you were faced with from the start.
I also give myself time to zoom out before I go to sleep. I pretty much do the reverse of what I do in the mornings, where I make a physical list of all the things I need to do or look into in the next day or following days, followed by mentally checking off all the things I managed to accomplish this day and finish up by clearing my mind of any thoughts.
3. Do something that truly makes you forget your worries and brings out that innocent child within.
I believe that we each have an inner child version of ourselves deep down. This version is one that will forever be happy and innocent. It is there to remind us of all the positive things life has to offer. It motivates us to be better because it’s the part of us that knows just how hard we work and how far we have come. But unfortunately, it is sometimes hard to find the time to even listen to that part of us, let alone allow that side of us to come out.
I think it is important to find the time even once a week, or once a month, to do something that truly makes you happy. Whether it is a sport, or helping a charity or even spending the afternoon painting or singing. At these moments that you allow your mind, body, and soul to truly relax and heal.