Don’t mess with your inner calm
Stress has its place in life, as does anything, but that doesn’t mean that you have to give into it. It doesn’t matter whether that stress is short term or long term, it doesn’t have to affect your entire life if you don’t want it to. It’s easy to want to avoid the problem, but stress isn’t just something that you deal with. It’s something that can drastically alter your brain and your body.
A tiny dose of stress can be good for the system, but it’s stresses like fight or flight when you’re on an adventure your friends that’s good for you – not the stress you feel when you’ve lost your job and panic mode starts up.
There are so many ways that stress impacts your body and changes your very makeup, but luckily there is a lot that you can do with meditation, exercise and eating right that can help you to reduce that stress and live a life that is sensibly exciting rather than one that gives you stress headaches.
Our stress responses have evolved over time, and with 80% of illnesses exacerbated or related to stress, this is a good thing. The side effects of stress can include things like high blood pressure, headaches, tension strains in the muscles and stress even has the ability to affect your immune system, making you susceptible to more illness. There are medicines like Timolol that can help your blood pressure over time, although that depends on whether or not you have accessible healthcare.
The side effects of stress can be reversed slowly by dealing with the stress that you feel in the first place. Our stress response – fight or flight – is there to protect you from danger. It just depends on you to decide whether you will fight what stresses you out or run from it. Of course, this response is mega handy when it comes to running from a murderer, seeing as stress gives us a boost of adrenaline and cortisol. Both of these hormones raise the blood pressure and make our blood sugars skyrocket. This is great in a hard situation to help you react to it, but not so great on the body long term.
Being stressed is going to have a pretty crummy effect on your physical health, but it’s also going to have a huge impact on your mental health. Depression, anxiety, and panic disorders are all directly related to unhealthy levels of stress in your life. Your entire life could be great, but your job could be the thing for you that is stressful. Firefighters, police officers and even doctors live under a shroud of unprecedented levels of stress on a daily basis. Though, sometimes it’s not the job itself, but the pressure and responsibility that comes with it. Having bills to pay and not knowing if you’ll be able to? Yeah, that’s stressful, no matter how easy your job might be.
It’s important to understand, though, that you don’t have to live like that – whatever your job may be. The ability to keep yourself calm in a difficult situation is a unique ability to have and thankfully you can teach yourself to do this. Is it easy? Not for everyone. It’s going to take some time to get the hang of, but here are some ways you can learn to find that inner calm when calm is the furthest thing from your mind.
It’s cheesy, it’s sickly sweet and yet it’s the truest thing that you can ever do for yourself. Being positive in any situation is going to be the way that you get through a messy situation as painlessly as possible. It’s very easy to be negative and blue about a situation in your life. Sometimes it can even feel like the default – but it doesn’t have to be. You can look at the cards that you’ve been dealt, take a deep breath and know that you’ll be laughing about this in a week or a month.
Or, maybe you won’t be laughing, but at least you can find the comfort and optimism in remembering that your current situation isn’t permanent. Now isn’t forever, things change. Accept that things might be crap, but let yourself see the bigger picture and remind yourself that better things are around the corner.
It only makes sense that what goes into our bodies plays a pretty big role on how our bodies feel. Eating well means balancing your sugar intake and making sure that your caffeine isn’t too high. When I’m feeling panicky, the last thing I want is my heart rate to be even faster. Caffeine is a stimulator and while it’s a handy thing to have when you’re exhausted, you don’t need it to exacerbate feelings of paranoia or anxiety.
As much as you can, opt for water. Water is going to be the very thing that you need to keep you going in your day and keeps your brain hydrated and healthy enough to think straight. I get dehydrated super easily, and when I do, it makes problem-solving so much harder.
Not the false one that you keep for your boss’ jokes (is anyone else thinking of Chandler’s work laugh right now?), but you need to learn to laugh. People who are able to joke and laugh in highly stressful situations are those that can feel fear, feel the danger ahead and can also trust that there’s a solution. That they’ll be okay in the end. I’m not quite sure I’m there yet, but I’d like to be. Laughter also releases hormones that can calm you down and make you feel happier. It’s basically a chance to fake it til you make it, which is exactly what you need when life becomes wildly stressful.
Sometimes, it can really help to be able to place where your stress is coming from. There will be days that those anxious and paranoid feelings spring up seemingly without reason, but there is always a reason, right? Even if that reason is that you need some medicine to help balance things out in your brain. If you can identify what it is that is making you feel stressed, you have a starting place. You have a problem to solve and therefore a solution to find. It’s hard to fix something before you figure out what it is that you have to fix.
It is not easy to decompress from stress, but it is exactly what you need to do to stay calm. When your heart rate is up, go for a jog. Adrenaline and cortisol rushing through your body at a rapid rate can make you feel relatively claustrophobic, but if you work on distracting yourself enough to burn off those hormones, your body can sink into a natural calm.
If you’re disabled like me, that may not be an option. Clean your room, go outside, turn on your favorite movie, or do anything that will take your focus off what is stressing you out. It can also help you to sleep better if you distract yourself from the cause of the stress and get out of your own head. Do anything that you can to keep yourself busy and take your mind off the situation at hand.
When we’re overwhelmed with stress, the bigger picture shrinks away and all we can see is what’s upsetting us. Taking that step back allows you the time to reassess things and feel good about them; a new perspective can make a massive difference to the way that you handle your situation. Don’t make things harder for yourself than they really need to be. There’s nothing worse than trying to climb a mountain when really, it’s only the hill you need to handle.
As soon as you know the situation at hand and you’ve identified what it is that is making you feel stressed, you can plan. Figuring out the steps you need to take to get to your goal can change your entire life, because once you have a focus your body can relax and calm down. A clear plan to get things straight can make you feel focused and ready to start working. Sit down and write it all down; everything you are feeling needs to come out of the pen. Don’t overthink it, just get it out. Once you’ve done that, step away for a while before reading it all back. Coming back with fresh eyes can help keep yourself calm so you can decide how to plan.
Lastly, the one thing that you need to calm down is a good night of full sleep. Your brain heals in sleep, which means that you need to make sure that your bedroom is a place to be calm. If that means leaving your phone and laptop in another room, do it. Darkness, quiet and comfort is what your body needs to heal.
Stress can completely change your body if you allow it to affect you to the point of getting sick. Don’t allow it to take you over; you’re the one in control here, you just have to believe it.
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