No one is immune to stress. We all experience stress from time to time. Some people may cope with stress more effectively or recover from stressful events more quickly than others. There are different types of stress—all of which carry physical and mental health risks.
A stressor refers to the factor that triggers stress. It may be a one time or short-term occurrence, or it can be an occurrence that keeps happening over a long period of time. Examples of stress include routine stress related to the pressures of work, school, family and other daily responsibilities, or stress brought about by a sudden negative change, such as losing a job, divorce, or illness, or traumatic stress experienced in an event like a major accident, war, assault, or a natural disaster where people may be in danger of being seriously hurt or killed.
Considering the widespread damage stress can cause, it’s important to know your own limit. But just how much stress is ‘too much’ differs from person to person. Some people seem to be able to carry on smoothly in spite of daily hardships, while others tend to crumble in the face of small obstacles or frustrations. Some people even thrive on the excitement of a high-stress lifestyle.
Factors that influence your stress tolerance level include a strong network of supportive friends and family members. Having such a genuinely supportive network is good protection against the hazards of stress. When you have people you can count on, life’s pressures don’t seem as overwhelming. On the other side, the lonelier and more isolated you are, the greater your risk of succumbing to stress.
Your sense of control also influences your stress tolerance level. If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, it’s easier to cope with stress. On the other hand, if you believe that you have little control over your life—that you’re at the mercy of your environment and circumstances, with limited ability to make changes—stress is more likely to knock you off course.
The way you look at life, and its inevitable challenges make a massive difference in your ability to handle stress. If you’re generally hopeful and optimistic, you’ll be less vulnerable. Good stress managers tend to embrace challenges, have a stronger sense of humour, believe in a higher purpose, and accept change as an inevitable part of life.
Also, your ability to deal with your emotions affect your stress coping abilities. If you don’t know how to calm and soothe yourself when you’re feeling sad, angry, or troubled, you’re more likely to become stressed and agitated. Having the ability to identify and deal appropriately with your emotions can increase your tolerance to stress and help you bounce back from adversity.
Finally, your knowledge and preparation affect how you cope with stress. The more you know about a stressful situation—including how long it will last and what to expect—the easier it is to cope. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-surgery, a painful recovery will be less stressful than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately.
However, how does one cope with stress in such an environment as ours where there is so much insecurity, road accidents, political instability and uncertainty everywhere? My good friend, do not be deceived. There are insecurity and challenges everywhere in the world. Never make yourself a victim of circumstances. You can find peace and tranquillity in the midst of daily personal and societal challenges.
First of all, get moving. Increase your physical activities. This can relieve stress and make you feel better. Regular exercise can lift your mood and serve as a distraction from worries, allowing you to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed stress. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, and dancing are particularly effective.
Learn to connect with others. The simple act of talking face-to-face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve stress when you’re feeling agitated or insecure. Even just a brief exchange of kind words or a friendly look from another human being can help calm and soothe your nervous system. So, spend time with people who make you feel good and don’t let your responsibilities keep you from having a social life. If you don’t have any close relationships or your relationships are the source of your stress, make it a priority to build stronger and more satisfying connections.When I say connections, I am not talking about Facebook or Twitter connections. I am talking about real life connections with real people.
Eat a healthy diet if you are prone to excessive stress. The food you eat can improve or worsen your mood and affect your ability to cope with life’s stressors. Eating a diet full of processed and convenience food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks can worsen symptoms of stress.
On the other hand, eating natural foods, especially fruits and vegetables such as cucumber, watermelon, carrots, banana, pawpaw, waterleaf, bitter leaf and tomato can brighten your spirit and increase your energy level. Finally, take plenty of water. Infact, dehydration in itself can cause stress. So, take as much water as possible. What I usually recommend is to take one or two glasses of water every hour.
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