What is Stress?
Traditionally, stress is our body’s reaction to a real or perceived threat. The stress prompts us to fight or flee, getting us out of immediate danger. However, in our Western society, stress is more of a daily occurrence that comes up for a variety of reasons, and are not typically things that can be fought against or from which we can run.
For uniformed professionals, such as first responders, military personnel, and emergency service personnel, one’s occupation may be stressful due to the regular (and sometimes daily) exposure to traumatic events, competing priorities on short timelines, and being in a position that is relied upon by society.
Whether we have too much on our task lists, major life changes, occupational stress, or illness in the family, our bodies and minds feel the pressure and become “stressed”. A little stress is normal; it motivates us to become more productive, and complete tasks. However, too much prolonged stress can be overwhelming, creating problems in our relationships, work, and daily functioning.
Different people, in different stressful situations, may react differently. Here are some common signs that stress may be an issue:
- Avoidance of the original problem
- Difficulty concentrating
- Inability to make decisions
- Lack of confidence and self-esteem
- Excessive sweating
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle tenseness
- Difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep
An Encompas care manager can help you find a mental health professional who can help you manage and reduce your stress, implement healthy coping strategies, and get back to enjoying life.
Some common techniques for the short-term resolution of stress can include:
- Slow down: Often we think that the faster we run around the more we can get done. Often, however, trying to cram everything we wish to do in small periods of time can lead to burnout, and affects the clarity of our thoughts. It is often important to recognize that when we actually slow ourselves down, we often get more done and it gets done more consistently. By slowing down, we can avoid burnout, as well as stress.
- Self Care: Taking care of yourself will often lead to a decrease in stress. True self care is doing something for yourself that you want to do and that rejuvenates your spirit, soul and body. Self care looks different for everyone and it is important to personalize the experience.
- Relaxation: The more stressed we become, the harder it is to actually bring your body and mind back to a relaxed state. Relaxation becomes an important routine to incorporate into your life as it brings you back to a neutral resting state and resets you for future stress. Without helping your body relax, the stress keeps compounding which is very damaging not only for your emotional state but also for your physical state.