Ways We Can Cope with Stress | Relaxation Training | Vulnerability to Stress Quiz
When we perceive or experience a stressor our whole body is affected; some areas become activated and others shut down. The part of our brain called the Hypothalamus first responds to the stressor and sends the signal to arouse the body. From here the stress response can take 3 different pathways to activate certain areas necessary to fight off the threat.
- Neural Axes- Stress response moves directly to the target organs
- Neuromuscular: Grinding teeth
- Sympathetic Nervous System: “Fight or Flight Response” When activated, the SNS increases our heart rate, decreases salivary secretion, dilates pupils, and constricts blood vessels.
- Example: When giving a presentation many of us experience the feeling of our heart pounding in chest and our mouths become extremely dry.
- Results in heart rate slowing down, salivary secretion increasing, and pupils constricting.
- Adrenalin released by Adrenal Medulla: Increased muscle tension
- Noradrenalin released Adrenal Medulla: Increased vasoconstriction’Increased blood pressure
- Cortisol (“The Stress Hormone”) released- Loss of appetite and increased availability of energy
- Aldosterone released- Increased availability of water supply
Signs that we may be experiencing too much stress in our life:
- Sleeping difficulties
- Grinding teeth
- Stomach aches/pains
- Lack of concentration
- Difficulty remembering important information
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Constant nervousness
- Decreased sense of humor
Poor ways we cope with excessive stress:
- Remove ourselves from the support of friends and family.
- Ignore the importance of sleep, exercise and healthy eating.
- Use excessive amounts of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and caffeine.
- Ignore the importance of personal time away from work and school.
Beneficial ways of managing stress
The goal of stress management is to reduce the excessive levels of stress that interfere with our ability to perform at our peak performance.
Spending time with loved ones can be a great way to remove ourselves from the chaos of school work or practicum. Keep your family and friends in your life and share your accomplishments as well as your struggles with them. The love and support they can provide you cannot be replaced by any other stress reliever.
If you have a religious affiliation or sense of spirituality it is important to keep your faith in your daily life. Maintaining faith in something more powerful than yourself can provide you with a sense of peace during both the good times and the bad times.
Most people need between 6-8 hours of sleep every night to perform at their best. While some may need less and some may need more, it is important to know what you personally need. Also try to keep to a consistent sleep schedule as much as possible. Even with the same amount of sleep per night, varying between late and early nights can increase fatigue and decrease performance.
Not only can we feel the physical effects of going for a run, lifting weights or practicing yoga, but exercise can have a strong effect on our moods. Exercise can increase our concentration, provide a sense of accomplishment, and improve our sense of well-being. Stress exists to help us survive physical threats, so physical activity is an easy way to counteract the stress response. Any type of exercise that elevates our heart rate will provide positive results.
Allow yourself to engage in the enjoyable activities that are not work or school related. This could be watching your favorite television show, playing pick up basketball, or reading for your own pleasure. If you don’t give yourself personal time, you are setting yourself up for future stress.