Is Stress Good For You?
I started this morning the way I imagine Mary Poppins does. Singing, laughing, and skipping around, ready to have a fantastic day. I had a list of errands that needed to be done and I thought I would just get out there, get them done and be back home within a couple of hours to get on with my work.
Then the world of city traffic, one red light after another and having to find parking while getting honked at to go faster, came crashing down. Over 4 hours later I got back home, tail between my legs, feeling like the first half of my day was wasted. I was past the point of starvation and ready to crawl under the covers and take one of those naps that turns into a 10-hour sleep.
While I was out, as I watched the time get later and later all I could think about was all the things waiting for me to still get finished. I beat myself up for not planning it out properly and I cursed my GPS for not picking up on alternative routes fast enough after missing a turn.
In other words, I stressed myself out. Eventually, I gave myself a stern talking to and when I got home, I made a large cup of de-stressing tea (yes, that stuff works). As I was sipping my tea I was thinking about stress and how I allowed myself to get unnecessarily stressed out. I wondered can stress ever really be good for you?
What is Stress?
Your reaction or response to things changing is considered stress. For example, if you are about to be a new parent and you start to experience moments of panic at the new responsibility, even though you are excited, this is considered stress.
Reactions can be physical like sweating, mental like obsessive thoughts and emotional like worry.
Stress is one of those things that is explained as being normal and to expect it to happen in life.
When is Stress Bad for You?
An official diagnosis of chronic stress or distress is when you know you are stressing on a level that is not good for your well being. In these circumstances, you experience one stressful thing after another and are provided with no relief from the stress. Imagine going all day with your muscles tense, an unrelenting headache and feeling worried?!
This type of stress can contribute and even lead to things like anxiety, depression and panic attacks. It often leads to exhaustion as your body both mentally and physically is on high alert all the time.
Another key indicator that you experience too much stress in your life, is if you are trying to combat the stress with unhealthy activities and behaviors. For example, excessive drinking or smoking, gambling, binge shopping, unhealthy eating habits and so on.
Pay attention to how much stress you experience in your day and how you respond to it. It’s okay to blow off a little steam. If after a long week you decide to go out with some friends and let loose, I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s when these behaviors become constant and habitual, as a result of the stress you experience, that it’s time to be alarmed and talk to a professional.
When is Stress Good for You?
Do you know the saying ‘good things come in small doses’? You can apply that to stress. Stress isn’t all bad when you don’t experience it too often or it’s an appropriate reaction to what is happening in your environment.
When your body reacts to certain situations in a stressful way this can let you know something is up. Either you need to be wary and alert, or cautious or run for your life. Stress can be a big indicator that you need to get moving either away from something dangerous or towards something amazing.
Think about having a big looming and important deadline coming up at work. As a result, your body and mind kicks into overdrive to complete the project and deliver the presentation of a lifetime. In this case, your stress motivated you to bring your best self forward and excel.
To answer my original question, yes, stress can be good for you, in moderation.
How to Relieve Stress
Good or bad, stress can take a toll on you physically, emotionally and mentally. Taking a moment to relax and release stress is essential to maintaining balance and wellness.
BEST ways to manage stress:
Spending time with your furry friend: My dog is just as excited to see me after I’ve been gone for 1 minute as he is after 3 hours. That level of love he shows me can’t be beaten and is an instant mood enhancer and great way to relieve stress.
Quality time: Having planned and fun activities scheduled with family and friends is a great way to get carefree and fun time with those you care for and who care for you. Plus, the support they give is a great way to get you through and manage the stress.
Long, long showers. I’m not really a bath person but if I was that would be here. There is something about being in the hot water with my favorite essential oils wafting around the bathroom that puts my mind at immediate ease.
Meditate and exercise: Both are a great way to let the stress go. Meditations tend to calm your mind and bring you back to a place of feeling centered. While exercise can rev you up and give you an outlet to release the stress and all the other emotions with it. My favorite form of exercise…kickboxing!
Acceptance or Action: This can be harder to do then it seems. However, simply accepting the situation for what it is, is the best way to let go of the stress. If there is something you can do and it is reasonable then go ahead and do it otherwise accept and release all attachments to the outcome.
Drink Some Damn Tea: I mentioned it earlier so how could I not include it. Drinking certain herbal concoctions is a great way to get some relaxation straight into your body with little effort. My favorite blends are lavender, honey and chamomile. Of course, if you are not a tea drinker there are other things you can incorporate into your day to bring instant calmness. For example, having a calming stone/crystal, carrying around essential oils, going for a massage etc.
Stress is something that can benefit us and get to us in the worst ways. Make sure if the stressing get’s too much that you let some of that stress out in healthy ways that will benefit you more.
Let me know which ideas you liked best for stress relief or what you like to do instead!
Many blessings and love always,