Stress is defined as a a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation. Stress is thought of as a natural response to a challenging or dangerous situation. Most stress responses are only designed to function for a short period of time, of about 1 to 2 hours. It is when these stress feelings, or emotions, last for days on end, that health issues can arise. These health issues can be many things, ranging from high blood pressure, heart disease, cognitive problems, mental disorders, mood swings, digestive and sleep problems. They intertwine with each other, which leads to a multitude of issues. However, one of the most concerning problems about stress, is how it can affect the brain. Stress can affect the memory, and other brain functions like mood, and anxiety. Stress also seems to promote inflammation, which can not only adversely affect the brain, but also the joints, and the cardiovascular system. The ways to deal with stress are well known, and have been around for a long time. They can range from meditation, listening to music, exercise, reading, social interaction, and deep breathing. It is a foregone conclusion, that stress is a natural part of life. One article goes so far as to say that a life without stress, is not only impossible, but also would likely be pretty uninteresting. Many feel that a certain degree of stress is helpful for growth. In fact, there is a term eustress which means beneficial stress. Is that really the way things have to be? Since stress seems to cause so many problems with our bodies and minds, when does beneficial stress become harmful stress. Instead of trying to deal with stress, maybe we should be trying to prevent it altogether, even though that seems to be impossible.
There are many things out there, that can be good for us, in small to moderate amounts, but if we overdo it, can be harmful. Sunlight, alcohol, food, and even exercise, if carried to extreme can do us harm. The difference is, these are all tangible items, that we can see and do. Stress is something that we create, 95% of the time. There is natural stress, which is mostly caused by danger, and our fears. Fear is a very real thing to the person who has the fear, even though many people may think the fear is ridiculous. I am not going to get into specifics, because this blog is about stress. These stressors are there to protect us in times of danger or can help us conquer our fears. These natural stressors do not make life any more, or less interesting, but I agree are impossible to avoid. The stress related to our relationships with friends, loved ones, spouses, life partners, coworkers and careers(yes, we have a relationship with our career/jobs), is the stress that we create, and need to prevent, not manage. We all know the things that create this stress. Things go wrong, not the way we want them to, job related pressures, and all the things in an interpersonal relationship. The list can go on and on. Preventing this stress is like most things in life, it is easier said than done. I believe there are ways of doing it. Start the day with meditation, and end it by counting your blessings. Acceptance of a situation is a big step in preventing stress. Make a move, that you have been thinking of doing for a long time. Do something. There is a solution to every problem, it just hasn’t been found yet. Do not think of the consequences, if someone else, is in control of those consequences. Do your best at all times, and move on. Deep breaths, when fear and anxiety seem to be taking over. Anticipation always seems to be worse than what will actually happens. The bottom line is this, just don’t feel stressed. It does not have to be created. The idea that in order for a life to be interesting and full, it has to have stress in it, is absurd. Natural stress is protective and necessary. Created stress just makes life miserable, not interesting. You may not be able to control outcomes, but you can control how you react to them. Think like you just received an anti stress vaccine. It is possible to live a life, free from created stress.