Word Of the Week #593: Stress

December 17, 2015 by  

Stressmental, emotional, or physical strain or tension.

Does your stress level go up with the holidays? Do you feel more stress at home or at work? Have you found ways to help you reduce tension?

This week I am taking the liberty of re-running my WOW from 2012. Heidi Stevens’s article from the Chicago Tribune titled, “TAMING STRESS” caught my eye. She writes, “Facing down a man-eating lion is not the same as facing gown an Excel spreadsheet, but try explaining that to your body’s stress receptors, especially when they’re at maximum capacity trying to get ready for the holidays.

Stress has become a normal part of most of our lives with longer work hours, financial burdens a stressand family strains. It doesn’t take much, especially at this time of year, to push us over the top.”

Thea Singer an MIT instructor and author of “Stress Less” says, “Once the lion is gone your stress response subsides. So much of what stresses us now, though is perceived stress. And when you constantly perceive yourself as stressed, your stress hormones never get turned off and you bathe yourself in a toxic substance.”

The consequences of stress is that it instantaneously increases your heart rate and blood pressure, makes your guts not function well and creates damage to your blood vessels and organs. Singer goes on to say, “There are 5 things you can do so you will be less reactive to a stressor when one hits. It’s really important to be proactive.”

  1. Break a sweat: Exercise is a good stressor and it trains your brain to relax. If you look at our culture, we’re not exercising regularly. We’re training ourselves for stress, but we’re not training ourselves for relaxation.
  1. Offline friending: Scientific studies have shown that those who have greater social support are less reactive to stressors than those who have less support. When we experience emotional pleasure, our reward circuitry kicks in. When we experience emotional pain, a different part of the brain kicks in. In those who exhibit more social support, the part of the brain that experiences pain is less reactive during “stress” than in those with less support. And the benefits apply whether you’re giving or receiving social support. Call a pal. Join a book club. Volunteer.

I will share the other 3 next week. This week’s focus is on how much stress you have in your life. What % of your day do you feel stressed? Do you feel more stress at work or at home? When was the last time you exercised? When was the last time you relaxed? How many social support systems do you have?

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