Mitigating Stress: Avoiding and Adapting

Wednesday, 07 May 2014

Because of the range of problems resulting from prolonged stress it is very important to learn how to manage it.  Some key approaches are to avoid the stress, adapt to it or alter your response to it, adopt a healthy lifestyle to combat the harm it does and to add more fun and relaxation to your life.  This is not an either or approach.  Not every stressor can be treated the same way, every time so it is important to be aware of what is stressing you out and reacting appropriately to preserve your health and well-being.

Avoiding Stress is a tactic you can employ where possible.  If you know certain people or situations are likely to trigger you and it is possible to steer clear, then this might be a tactic you could employ.  You can refuse to engage in conversations about politics or religion, for example, or decline that dinner party where so-and-so is going to be.  It is not always feasible to avoid stressors, however.

Adapting and altering your reactions may be some of your most powerful tools, after exercise.  Remember, that the stress mechanism involves a primitive brain function that is perceiving a stressor as a life or death threat.  Even though the stress itself diverts blood from your brain and impairs cognitive functioning, you can train yourself to reframe your perspective and change your reaction.  This cognitive reframing is greatly aided by deep breathing exercises.  Slow deep breathing accompanied by reframing is highly effective in rebooting your stress reaction.  The old ‘counting to ten’ advise, really works!  Short, deep breaths where you force air in and out of your lungs also works.  All of these can keep you out of an ‘amygdala highjack’.   Embracing a healthy lifestyle may be the best tool in your arsenal to fight stress.  Read next time to find out how this works.

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