Sustainability Tools | JDC EXEC
what they should have told you
Janine Do Cabo | Sustainability & Leadership Development | JHB, SA
Stress has existed since the dawn of mankind despite what we would describe today as simple living, it didn’t make them exempt from it. When the men went out to provide for their families they would have to take into account the dangers that lay in the terrain and distance they would travel, and of course the predators that may be hunting them.
As terrifying as it may have been, the biggest advantage of how they managed the stressful situation was that they were able to respond quickly to a visible threat.
Today when the lion or tiger presents itself in the form of a deadline at work, an overdue bill, or a sick loved one, because it could be ongoing, it makes the fight or flight response a little bit tricky.
I mean, you can’t quit your job because you’ve mismanaged your time and won’t meet the deadline, or move homes if a loved one is ill.
The result of this new kind of stress requires a new way of dealing with it.
According to psychologists, whether stress is real, physical, and even perceived it can harm our bodies when the adrenaline used to assist in the fight or flight response is stored up and not utilized. Heart diseases, high blood pressure, asthma, obesity, anxiety, and depression are just a few of the diseases associated with stress – diseases on the rise as stress levels increase world-wide.
In today’s blog post we will discuss stress. The signs that you suffer from it and what you can do to get back to your “normal” self. Whatever normal is to you.
Have you ever sat quietly with no one around, in a quiet room, with the noise in your head so loud that you could scream? If the answer to this is yes, then you’ve probably experienced one of the symptoms of stress – at least in its infancy stage. You’d be lucky to identify the noise in your head as stress because for most they wouldn’t be able to pinpoint what thoughts have brought about feelings of despair and overwhelm. It operates stealthily and can be called a silent assassin because by the time you realize you’re stressed it’s probably when you’re being rushed to the doctor’s room feeling light-headed and short of breath because your blood pressure is too high.
At times, stress presents itself in more subtle ways like skin conditions and tummy issues like rashes and gastrointestinal problems. Other times it’s in our mood changes. What may not have bothered us previously, we’re short-fused about or what. The longer you allow for it to stay, the more damage it could do.
So how does stress work?
Most of us are the barrier that helps fight off sickness and disease. When we are stressed, however, the stress hormone corticosteroid is released which breaks down the barrier our immune system has built up, making fighting sickness a big ask.
With how dangerous stress can be, it’s a wonder why it’s taken the world so long to realize that undetected stress is at the root of diseases that end lives, sometimes prematurely. It’s imperative to know what measures you can take when you feel a little stressed out.
1. Make small, smart decisions and stick with them
It may seem insignificant, but opting for less sugar in your coffee, going for a walk once a week, laughing more, and spending time with the people you love are small things you could do to minimize the effects of stress.
2. Set boundaries for yourself and others
What would you allow for yourself and others and where would your tipping point be? When managing stress, it helps to determine who or what is robbing you but most of all what you will not allow at all, where do you draw the line, at work, personal, and with friends.
3. Kick some of those bad habits out the door
We are creatures of habit. Some benefit us, while others don’t. Some of the most damaging habits for stress include oversleeping, smoking, too much wine, no physical exercise, and of course allowing yourself to focus on negative thoughts.
4. Find yourself a system that works for you
Steven Covey said that,
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
To do that, you would need to list what your priorities are, organize then and manage your time around them because if you don’t allocate something productive to your time, someone or something else will; keeping in mind that proper planning prevents poor performance
5. Self-improve and up-skill to form a momentum of success
The people who manage stress well, are the ones who are proactive about the situation they’re in. If you don’t know something, pick up a book and read about it. Upskilling doesn’t necessarily mean enrolling in a course, but you could also subscribe to a podcast and set aside time in the day or week to better yourself and your condition by being in a better headspace.
6. Change your focus from the now to the future
Now, this could be a little tricky because overthinking about the future could bring about anxiety. The key is to think positively about the future, envisioning the kind of outcomes that would not be as stressful to you.
I think it is important to note that our bodies were designed to encounter stressful situations because no matter what, being stressed from time to time is inevitable. What is, is the inability to manage it – the sooner you realize that you have the power to allow stress to either propel you into greatness (fight) or paralyze you (flight), the less likely you would be anxious about being stressed.