Believe it or not, our bodies are not fully evolved to deal with the daily stressors of modern life. As Robert Sapolsky, a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford, describes, the stress response our bodies use today to deal with modern life is essentially the same one we used to outrun and outsmart prehistoric predators. We’ve adapted what was supposed to be a short-term emergency response into a long-term coping strategy to deal with our increasingly connected and complicated world.
Chronic stress, which many people experience when they’re living in poverty, have a poor work/life balance, or are dealing with health struggles, has a poor effect on our bodies. For National Stress Awareness Day, it’s important to take stock of your daily stressors and address them with sensible solutions. If we avoid doing this, our bodies can break down with prolonged exposure and cause issues with mental health.
Acts of self-care
You may think self-care is about buying products and services that can enhance your daily life and reduce stress. And while a nice meal with a loved one or treating yourself to a massage or facial isn’t necessarily a bad way to spend your money, self-care can be as easy as taking ten minutes to meditate, take calming breaths, give yourself positive self-talk, or practice gratitude.
Reduce stress in the moment
Much of what activates our stress response is an external factor outside of our control. For example, if diagnosed with general or social anxiety, panic attacks, or other anxiety disorders, unhealthy coping mechanisms can take over a person’s life. Prescription medication, therapy, support groups, and daily routines can all add to a person’s capacity to cope with overwhelming situations when they happen.
Accept stress as it comes
Our bodies have developed a stress response for a reason. Experiencing stress is natural and can be useful in certain situations. So, don’t always stress over the stress. Creating a plan of action for when you’re experiencing stressful situations will help your body return to its homeostasis so that systems can return to normal.
If you are experiencing overwhelming levels of stress and are struggling to manage it, help is available, and our team at Valley Oaks Health is here to support you through services like individual counseling and group therapy.