It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.-Lou Holtz
We Need Stress
One thing that has been consistent over our time as people has been that of stress. Humans may not have always called it the word stress, but despite what our verbiage is for the construct, it has always been a part of our existence as people. Many people wish to lower their stress, and if you asked, some people would like to completely eliminate stress from their life. However, this is not possible, nor would it be healthy or beneficial to eliminate stress away from one’s life completely.
What is Stress?
To begin, it would be most appropriate to start a conversation on stress by defining what stress is so that the term is properly understood. Stress is thrown around a lot in our modern vocabulary and is a term that you have probably heard countless times before. Stress is a psychological and physical reaction to the environment in response to a perceived threat.
As humans, we first started experiencing stress many thousands of years ago most likely in response to danger. Back then, the threat was likely an actual threat to a human’s life and overall well-being, such as a bear or a tiger. The predator that was after the human would cause a stress response in the body, which is a fight or flight response, getting the body ready to either stay and fight the threat, or to prepare to run and flee from the threat.
How Has Stress Changed
So now that there is a solid understanding of what stress is and it is realized that stress has been around for thousands of years, we can begin to uncover how stress manifests itself now, in the present day. It should be pointed out that stress itself has not changed much over the years. The response that humans experience in their body, from the psychological to the physiological, has remained very close to the same experience over the years.
However, stressors, or the things that cause us stress, have undoubtedly changed throughout time. As previously mentioned, many thousands of years ago the stressors often came from predators or from other humans who waged conflict on other humans. The stressors often involved an actual threat to the well-being of the individual.
Now, stressors may or may not involve an actual threat to the lives of individuals who feel stress. Often times, in the present day, individuals experience stress by a perceived source of stress and threat. This means that even though the source of stress may not be an actual threat to one’s life, it can still cause stress.
Should We Try to Get Rid of All Stress?
It may sound like because stress involves threatening situations and causes a response in our body that it would be a great idea to remove all stress from our lives. However, this would be a mistake. Stress, while having a negative side to it, also has positives that come from it…
Stress can get us motivated to do things. Without stress, projects often would not get completed. It can take the push of stress to get one moving and to get things accomplished.
Stress also reminds us that we care about something. For example, if you have a big project at work that your boss tells you needs to be done by the end of the week, you may have a stress response from this encounter. You may perceive the deadline as a threat to your well-being and to your career if you do not finish it. This stress may light a spark for you to work hard and get the project completed on time.
Without the feeling of stress, you may not be as motivated to work as hard and as diligently and may not get the project done on time as asked of you.
Reducing Stress When It Gets Too High
While stress can be beneficial, stress can also have negative consequences. And while it is not a good idea to try to get rid of all the stress that one experiences, it is still a good idea to try to reduce the level of stress you are experiencing – especially when those levels seem to be reaching an unmanageable or unhealthy level. Thankfully, there are a lot of great ways to manage and reduce stress when it feels like it is mounting or getting to a point where it is unbearable.
One easy way to reduce stress is to breathe. Deep breathing is a great way to reduce the somatic symptoms of stress as well as calm the mind.
Another way to reduce stress is to move the body. Exercise is a great way to alleviate some stress and to make yourself feel better. Relatedly, taking a walk is another way to release some stress. A walk outside can count as a form of exercise and as a way to enjoy nature – yet another way of helping bring stress levels down.
Control Your Levels of Stress
It is important to remember that stress is part of a human’s existence. Stress is something that humans have been dealing with for thousands of years and that is not going to change any time soon. It is not realistic or even possible to lead a stress-free lifestyle. There are ways, however, to help reduce the level of stress one has in their life if the stress feels like it is too much.