You have a headache, an upset stomach, problems getting to sleep, elevated blood pressure and chest pains. If you looked this up on WebMd.com you'd probably think you were dying from some sort of horrifying disease. But in fact, these are the symptoms of a much more common health problem affecting almost all of us.
In the same way that pain isn't all bad because it lets you know the difference between a warm shower and scalding yourself with boiling water, stress isn't always a bad thing either.
Stress responses in your body during life threatening situations signal your body to stop all non-life-saving functions and focus on getting you out of the burning building, or running away from the man eating lion.
But the problem with stress is that your physiological responses to non-immediate stresses are largely the same as when you're fighting for survival.
In other words, your body will react roughly the same way whether you are stressing over a cell phone bill, or a meteorite heading towards the earth.
With that in mind it is easy to understand why people under stress can feel like they might die, because their body is reacting that way.
So your body thinks every homework assignment, messy kitchen, or job interview that stresses you out is going to kill you.
After a while of building up this stress you need some sort of relief. Stress that continues without relief leads to a condition called distress, which is where things can get really bad.
Distress can cause high blood pressure, heart problems, depression and anxiety among other things.
So what do you do when you are stressed out and need relief?
1) Complete A Repetitive Task
Studies have shown that completing a repetitive task can help your mind unwind.
When everything is piling up around you and you feel like you can't tackle any of it, completing something as simple as doing the dishes can give you a much needed sense of accomplishment.
It also puts your focus on the task at hand, rather than the prospect of your cell phone bill killing you.
The next time you are feeling stressed, throw yourself into some easy housework. Fold your laundry, vacuum your room, or sort out your loose change.
You can find whatever simple and repetitive task works for you, then use it as your go-to stress reliever.
2) Take A Warm Bath
A warm bath or shower will boost your mood.
Studies have shown that the sensation of warm water triggers responses in the body and brain similar to those of emotional warmth.
When you are in the shower or bath, try to focus on the comfort you feel and keep your mind off of the things that are stressing you out. This will relieve your stress and prepare you to deal with future stress with more ease.
3) Treat Yourself To Endorphins
There are many ways to get those happy chemicals pumping in your brain that will relieve your stress. Here is my quick go-to list:
- Pet a cat
- Eat some dark chocolate
- Enjoy a nice smell (spearmint and lavender have proven effects)
- Listen to your favourite music
- Have a good laugh
- Get some exercise
We all know that you can't avoid stress entirely. Whether a meteorite is heading to earth or you have a job interview, you are going to be stressed out at some point.
With these tips you will be able to relieve some of that stress, so that you don't actually die. Because that would really be stressful.