What is Stress?
Let’s start by mentioning that stress is not always a bad thing. Without stress humankind would not have survived. Our ancestors used stress to heighten their responses to potential danger!
There are 3 main responses to stress:
Fight: Your bodies natural reaction will be to ‘fight’: You may feel agitated or aggressive! This was useful when we had to fight off predators but can be unnecessary in certain situations. Affecting relationships and reputations.
Flight: Some of us avoid our stress, we remove ourselves from situations instead of tackling our problems and taking risks. In everyday life this instinct can lead to stress escalating – when that stress doesn’t go away and we have to face it. On the other hand, removing yourself from certain situations can be very beneficial, and good for your mental wellbeing.
Freeze: Unknown to most, there is a third natural response to Stress: Freezing! For some people becoming stressed can cause them to get ‘locked’ into their nervous system. This response is most noticeable when we breathe. Holding your breath or shallow breathing are both forms of freezing!
Whilst freezing seems impractical, in rare cases not moving could prevent predators being aware of your presence!
It goes without saying that there is no good/or bad response to stress, each are equally beneficial and detrimental in their own ways.
What Causes Stress?
Some of the most common causes of Stress in the modern world include:
- Loss of Job
- Increase in financial obligations
- Moving home
- Illnesses or Injuries
- Mental Health problems
- Traumatic Events
Stress can be caused by anything that induces fear or uncertainty. How you perceive situations, and your attitude can affect your stress levels: Having unrealistic expectations of yourself, others, or people having unrealistic expectations of you. Or change (in routine, in lifestyle etc) can also have a massive effect on your wellbeing.
How can we combat Stress?
I think its important to not fear stress! Also, to be honest with yourself and others. If you feel overwhelmed, that is ok! We need to stop apologising for having boundaries, and for having a life! You are as equally important as your University work, your job and your financial obligations.
So let’s start prioritising our health!
Get a good night’s sleep, practice deep breathing, stay hydrated, eat well and healthily, get moving, don’t be a slave to technology. And (possibly most importantly) learn that you can say no!
You are the master of your own fate!
You got this!