Harnessing Stress

Harnessing Stress

Today we are no stranger to stress. The key isn’t to deny stress, but to recognize and acknowledge it. Realize, people can learn to be in a more stress-hardy mindset, the best stress response is often tempered by the challenge response.

One modification to the stress response is called “tend-and-befriend”. It explains why, after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, people felt the need to reach out to friends and relatives in the community—to assure themselves that loved ones were alright, to comfort the distressed or bereaved, and to shore up social networks

A stress response, affects our cardiovascular system, immune system and general sense of well-being.  When your body repeatedly encounters a set of physiological changes dubbed your learned response becomes key. Stress may contribute to or exacerbate various health problems. However, stress can also help you identify your stress warning signs and teach you how to better manage stressful situations on a daily basis.

Learning to connect in a new way will actually help reduce stress. That’s because” tend-and-befriend approach, involves a different balance of hormones. It makes the brain’s reward centers more responsive to support our resilience. Now, more than ever before we need to adapt within the new “social distancing” guidelines. Staying close without contact. A common effect of stress can be strength, growth, and resilience.”

Whatever you’re doing, don’t pretend that stress doesn’t exist. People who deny it tend to isolate themselves and reinforce their fears. Fear is often described as False Expectations Appearing Real. Instead, can you recognize the how and why of the level of stress and look for any positive aspects and engage those. Are you learning something from it? Are you gaining strength? Are you connecting with people on a different level?

Be aware of all you CAN DO? When, you notice a racing heart, that a spate of fear causes, pause and realize that your body is trying to give you more energy and see if you can capitalize on that. Always question “What is within my control”?  Am I able to maintain socially distant behavior, while keeping my sense of stress under control? When you are feeling nervous, pause to consider what is happening, ask yourself if it’s because you’re being self- protective or protective of those you care for and how can you do the same under the new constraints of different behavior. Is it reinforcing your values and gives meaning to your life today?

Don’t deny the stress, but redirect your energy away from it. Doing some small act of kindness for someone and note the mental reward you reap. Be the one aware and learn ways of being in touch, without physical contact.

Smiles are free and everyone needs those, these days.  Nurture, even expand your social networks remotely. Caring for self and others creates resilience. Remember the saying “put the oxygen mask on yourself first then your loved ones”. In today’ stressful times try to focus on the larger purpose of whatever you’re doing and you will find that taking care of yourself is the best start for caring for others. So, recognize the stress you are under. Address it in the most proactive way you are able. See if you get enough rewards to spread around!!

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