What do you associate with stress? In the popular imagination, it’s caused by an angry boss, a frustrated customer, or a nerve-racking exam. Its effects include high blood pressure and heart problems, headaches, and indigestion. All of these things might be true of certain situations involving stress, but the concept of stress as a whole is much bigger than we often consider.
Knowing more about stress will, in turn, help you to manage its potential adverse effects and even benefit from it at times. Here’s how you can start becoming the master of stress in your life:
Identifying types and sources
How many types of stress are there? It actually depends on who you ask and which frame of reference they are using. For instance, in management, stress is task-related and can be categorized accordingly. In medicine, practitioners classify stress based on its health impact: physical, psychological, and so on.
Regardless of source or impact, though, all stress can be sorted into two types based on exposure over time: acute and chronic. Acute stress is encountered in short bouts; it’s easier to deal with and can actually stimulate a positive growth response. Chronic stress, on the other hand, provokes a long-term response that can drain your energy and motivation.
Managing negative stress
Since stress is commonly seen only in a negative light, it’s probably smart to start looking at all the factors that could send you to the best chiropractor in your area. At work, you could be facing a deadline for a significant project. Maybe the water heater at home was acting up earlier today, and you haven’t had time to investigate the cause. For each stressor, identify if it’s acute or chronic. Are you likely to continue feeling stressed by that particular source?
Remember that acute stressors can be negative things, but keeping their impact short means you don’t deal with adverse effects. If you can quickly resolve appliance issues with a DIY fix or by calling in repair experts, that load is off your plate. But watch out for chronic stress.
A looming deadline you can’t complete yet (perhaps because you’re waiting on a colleague to finish their tasks) will continue to create anxiety at work. If you can’t immediately deal with the source of stress, then your next step is to manage the stress response. This is where techniques such as finding a distraction and practicing meditation can help to prevent you from ruminating and making the stress exposure chronic.
Harnessing the potential upsides
Even without knowing how to discern the different types of stress, many people tend to get better at managing the downsides as they grow older. Failure to do so, of course, can only saddle you with health problems. But few people get to harness the potential of stress to be a positive influence in life without knowledge and deliberate practice.
In a world where people tend to grow isolated, strengthening your relationships in response to stress is one such opportunity. Taking on a new challenge or engaging in physical activity, is another way you can respond to acute stress and grow. Stimulate your mind to learn and your body to get fit.
You can’t avoid stress in life. But armed with the knowledge of how it can affect your mind and body, you’ll be able to divide and conquer different stressors, becoming resilient and using them to your advantage where possible.