In this day and age, with our 24/7 culture and multiple devices and communication platforms demanding attention and response, it is easy to experience stress. Stress can be a short-term reaction to a particular situation, or it can be a long-term response. Either way, it becomes dangerous and can be health damaging when it becomes serious enough to interfere with living a normal life.
The Big Picture
Stress responders are there for a reason. They are meant to be limited for scenarios when facing life- and limb-threatening dangers. Unfortunately, a lot of people in our modern culture are perpetually in fight-or-flight mode.
Our nervous system has two major operating modes: the sympathetic nervous system which produces a stress response known as fight-or-flight, and the parasympathetic nervous system which produces the body’s relaxation response, or rest and digest mode. This homeostatic state is when our body is in equilibrium. In order to access our body’s natural self-repair mechanisms in full function – our nervous system needs to be in relaxation response.
The Four A’s of Stress Management
When you get overwhelmed by stress, it is good to remember that you have more control over it than you may think – realizing you are in control is a big factor in stress management. Here are some ways to implement it:
- Avoid – learn how to say “no.” Learn your limits and stick to them; avoid people who repeatedly stress you out; control environmental stressors like TV news or traffic; streamline your to-do list.
- Alter – situations you cannot avoid by changing how you communicate and operate day to day. Express feelings instead of repressing them; be open to compromise when it comes to behavior (yours and theirs) in relationships; develop a balanced schedule that integrates health, work and family time, social connections and solitude, and responsibilities and chill time.
- Adapt- if you cannot change the stressor, change your response in terms of expectations and attitudes. This can include reframing problems to allow for a more positive perspective. Think about how important a current situation will be in the course of your life and adjust the energy you afford it; let go of damaging things like perfectionism and begin focusing on gratitude.
- Accept – what you are not able to control or change. Look for hidden gifts in challenges; share your feelings with friends; let go of anger and resentments; forgive.
Stress Management Activities
Living a more balanced life that is not stress-filled is crucial in recovery and attaining optimal health. Here are some tips for getting started:
- Identify sources of stress – keep a stress journal to gain perspective on your stress, a first step in managing and decreasing it.
- Physical activity – dance, run, do yoga, walk – anything that will release endorphins that make you feel good.
- Social connection – spend time with trusted friends and family in healthy relationships.
- Fun and relaxation – make time for yourself and the activities that you enjoy. Remember to laugh.
- Time management – set realistic tasks and goals and don’t overcommit.
- Lifestyle changes – integrate better choices.
At Thriven Functional Medicine, we work with our clients to help them move forward, recover from illness, and maintain a balanced lifestyle. We partner with you to educate, equip and empower you on your journey toward better health. Call us today at 406-205-8100 to learn more about our unique medical clinic and all-inclusive packages for making hope, health and healing possible. We focus on providing you an experience and results that will far exceed your expectations.