Stress: you don’t have to take the good with the bad

Stress: you don’t have to take the good with the bad

Stress in our daily lives

Stress is as ubiquitous as mobiles, fast food, and supermarkets. In our times, nobody can live long without them. The same goes for stress. Money, health, and personal relationships are among the top stressors in our lives. But, equally, being stuck in a traffic jam, or having to deal with a malfunctioning washer or a bad internet connection can blow our fuse and stress us out.

Stressors seem to be lurking behind every corner, ready to pull a black cloud over us, even if the skies above are bright and sunny. But are all stressors so bad for us?

According to WHO, stress “is a natural human reaction that prompts us to face the challenges and threats in our lives. Everyone experiences stress to some degree. How we respond to stress, however, greatly affects our overall health.”


Good stress and bad stress, yes, there is a difference

As we get stressed, our body releases adrenaline and cortisol, the two hormones designed to trigger our fight-or-flight response. When this happens, our heart starts to beat faster and our blood pressure rises. Effectively adrenaline and cortisol charge us up like a charger plugged into an electronic device.

This physiological reaction occurs even when we play a game, are at work, or are faced with a personal problem. The upside is that we feel more focused, alert, and energetic. This good stress, also called eustress, is the reason why we often perform better under pressure, both at play and at work.

Bad stress, on the other hand, can overwhelm and confuse us, make us feel insecure, and saddled with restless, unmanageable energy. Behavioral effects of this distress include changes in eating habits, sleeping problems, irritability, loss of motivation, muscle tension, and poor memory. If the symptoms persist over time and become chronic, they can lead to eating and sleeping disorders, depression, high blood pressure, and ulcers.


Why zebras don’t get ulcers

According to Dr. Robert Sapolsky, professor of biology, neurology, and neurosurgery at Stanford University, in the animal kingdom stress is only episodic. A zebra being chased by a lion will have a rush of adrenaline and cortisol. But this rush will subside soon - whether the zebra survives or not. And if the zebra makes it, it will not fall asleep worrying about losing her job, or the stock market.

Unfortunately, we humans have evolved to experience both episodic and chronic stress. Memories, thoughts, and feelings can continue to stress us long after the episode that triggered them in the first place has passed. And so, if we are chased by a lion, our high blood pressure might save us. But if our blood pressure spikes every time we get stuck in a traffic jam, we are not helping ourselves. Instead, we are setting ourselves up for chronic hypertension.


How to quiet down an overworked mind

Our mind likes to keep busy by constantly talking to us. Known as chatter, this inner voice is perfectly normal for most of us. But as the mind obsesses about our problems, it can slide down a rabbit hole of endless worries and rumination that can exhaust us. Is there anything we can do to give our brain and ourselves a well-deserved break?


Distanced self-talk

According to Dr. Ethan Kross, professor of psychology and director of the University of Michigan's Emotion and Self-Control Lab, one method involves talking to ourselves as if we were a different person. Switching from the first person “I” to the second person “you” or third person “one,” as in the case of “What should one do about ...?” instead of “What should I do ...?” can provide us with a sense of psychological distance from our feelings. Such a detachment can clear our minds and allow us to observe our thoughts and emotions more objectively.


Best friend advice

A second method Dr. Kross recommends to distance ourselves from a stressful problem is to consider what we would advise a close friend faced with the same problem. The advice we would give them, under less pressure since it is no longer “our” problem, is also the best advice we can offer ourselves.


Mental time travel

As a third method, Dr. Kross suggests we take a mental journey through time. To step back from a problem, we can ask ourselves how we would feel about it, one day, one month, or even one year from now. Chances are that when we look back on whatever stresses us now, it won’t feel as stressful. It’s all about putting things into perspective.


Stress management made enjoyable

Deep breathing, yoga, and meditation can take the edge off the moment and help us control our emotions. But stress management can be even more instant and enjoyable. Brewing a cup of organic herbs not only creates the opportunity for a mindful moment but also offers a chance to enjoy a wholesome, flavorful drink.

A cup of ATHONITES STRESS RELIEF organic herbal blend from certified organic cultivations on Mount Athos is the perfect way to instantly soothe the body and calm the mind. The comforting properties of chamomile and peppermint have been shown to create a calm yet alert state. On top of that, the floral notes of rose flowers, perfume-like and sweet, enhance the feeling of well-being and joy.

Stress is interwoven into our everyday lives. The point is not to run away from stress, but to manage it.

Unless of course we're being chased by a lion.