We are currently experiencing a collective surge in stress. Whether it’s the everyday pressures of life, work, or the broader challenges the world throws at us, stress is something we all contend with. While there are “good” kinds of stress, chronic stress can be particularly daunting. In this article, we will delve into how to manage chronic stress effectively.
Understanding Stress and the Stress Cycle
When we think of stress, we often identify specific stressors, like impending tests or work-related deadlines. However, it’s essential to understand that once the immediate stressor is removed, the stress doesn’t automatically vanish. The key to managing stress lies in completing the stress cycle.
Consider this scenario: You’re a medical student, diligently studying for a crucial exam. The moment you finish the test, your body might appear to have no reason to be stressed. Yet, that isn’t always the case. Often, your body retains the stress, and it can manifest in various ways, even making you susceptible to illness.
Completing the Stress Cycle
Completing the stress cycle is essential for your well-being. It’s akin to how animals in the wild respond to danger. For example, if a rabbit escapes from a pursuing coyote, it shakes off the adrenaline and fear, completing its stress cycle. This physical response allows the rabbit to return to a state of calm.
As humans, we must find ways to complete our stress cycles effectively. Here are some strategies to help:
Deep Abdominal Breathing: One way to complete the stress cycle is through focused deep abdominal breathing. Ensure you breathe from your diaphragm, not shallow breaths from your chest. This can help your body return to a state of relaxation.
The 20-Second Hug: Try a 20-second hug, a practice known for its calming effects. Hugging someone for this duration can reduce stress and promote feelings of safety and comfort.
Laughter Therapy: Laughter is a fantastic way to complete the stress cycle. Engage in activities that make you laugh, like watching funny videos, recalling hilarious memories, or spending time with friends who make you laugh.
Crying as Catharsis: Sometimes, a good cry can be therapeutic. It’s a natural way to release built-up stress and emotions. After a good cry, people often experience a sense of relief and emotional release.
Creative Expression: Engaging in creative activities like playing a musical instrument, painting, or any form of art can help complete the stress cycle. It offers a channel to express your emotions and find relief.
In these challenging times, managing chronic stress is crucial for our well-being. Chronic stress can persist even after a specific stressor has passed, leading to various physical and mental health issues. Completing the stress cycle is vital for returning to a state of calm and balance. The strategies discussed above can help you manage and complete your stress cycles effectively, ensuring you’re better equipped to handle life’s challenges.
Remember that chronic stress can have long-lasting health implications, so making stress management an essential part of your routine is a valuable investment in your overall well-being.