How I Melted My Chronic Stress
Seven unnecessary stress creators, how to recognise and deal with them
Living a stressful life was one of the most significant challenges of my life. When chronic stress became an iceberg affecting my physical and mental health, I felt obliged to take personal actions to melt this metophorical iceberg.
Stress is necessary for our growth, but chronic stress poses serious health risks. Accumulation of minor stressors leads to chronic stress in the long term. The World Health Organization classified chronic stress as the health epidemic of the 21st century.
We need stress to respond to life conditions and to our environment. Stress hormones keep us safe. They prepare us for life-threatening situations. Our survival system is hard-coded to generate stress hormones when it senses a threat to our safety. Each stress response becomes part of our ambient stress that is not urgent yet turns chronic and harmful in nature.
When our bodies are in the fight, flight, or freeze mode, they deactivate functions that are not critical to survival. For example, when we are in a stressful situation, our digestion and sex drive decline.
Stress is necessary, but there are also several unnecessary stress creators. We experience many stress-creating situations in life. However, in this post, I introduce only seven common stress creating cases which can be addressed easily as they are not major life issues. These stress creators cover physical, psychological, emotional, and social matters. None of them are real life threats, instead they are primarily perceptual therefore I call them unnecessary stressors.
Addressing these seven unnecessary stress creators can significantly reduce our stress levels. I briefly touch on them for key points at a high level as they are common issues in our society.
1 - Meaningless Social Media
Social media is a double-edged sword. Despite its many benefits, it is also an extremely stress-inducing tool for some people. Misuse of social media can be a huge stressor.
Social media can create destructive emotions because of perceptions. For example, some people envy others who are not necessarily genuine in what they represent on social media. In addition, online bullying is also common on social media sites.
Mindful use of social media can reduce our stress. If we are overwhelmed, one of the effective ways is to have a social media fast.
2 - Unnecessary Meetings at Work
Meetings are inevitable in the workplace. This is not exclusive to employees working in organizations. Even business owners must deal with meetings. If you are an entrepreneur, perhaps you may need to have many meetings with your clients.
However, some meetings are unnecessary. Many small issues which take at least half an hour with several attendees in a meeting can be done in a five-minute phone call or a short email. Yet, in my observations, meetings have become habitual in corporate organizations.
Refraining from unnecessary meetings can significantly reduce our stress by giving us more time for productive work.
3 - Excessive Sugar
Our brain and some organs need glucose to function. However, we don't have to eat a lot of sugar to meet these requirements. Our bloodstream can hold around a teaspoon of sugar at a time.
If we have more than that tiny amount of sugar in the bloodstream, the pancreas spikes insulin hormone to distribute the sugar to muscles, organs, and fat storage.
Excessive sugar causes significant stress to the body. In addition, glucose fluctuations in the bloodstream cause mood swings. Reducing sugar intake, especially from sugary drinks and simple carbohydrates, can solve this problem to some extent.
4 - Too Much and Frequent Cardio Workouts
Exercise is terrific for the body. It is essential for our health and fitness. But, unfortunately, too much exercise can have harmful effects. The problem with cardio is it can be addictive.
Excessive cardio can increase levels of the stress hormone, primarily cortisol. Elevated stress hormones for a long time can be toxic for the body. Any toxicity can add more stress to the body.
Recovery is essential to keep our stress levels at an optimum. Unfortunately, when we do cardio before recovering from the effects of previous sessions, the body creates more stress.
5 - Worrying About Matters Beyond Our Control
This is a psychological problem. Many of us suffer from this unnecessary yet common issue.
Life is full of risks. There are things within our control but also many things beyond our control. Constant worry about those matters beyond our control can significantly increase our stress level. Each concern adds more fuel to the fire.
One of the effective ways to deal with this psychological problem is mindful living and meditation practice. Whenever worrying thoughts come, if we acknowledge them and challenge those thoughts, we can reduce their negative effects.
6 - Mental and Environmental Clutter
Clutter is another psychological problem. Our brain functions better in structured and organized environments. On the other hand, a cluttered environment can be very stressful to live and work in.
In addition to the environmental clutter, mental clutter is also a significant problem. Consuming unnecessary information too much and too often can cause mental clutter.
For example, watching or reading news constantly can increase our stress level as most news items are about sensational events. Bad news creates toxic emotions that can destroy our mood and even ruin our lives when consumed constantly.
Reducing environmental and mental clutter can significantly reduce stress. Having a minimalist lifestyle is touted to decrease stress levels drastically.
7 - External Noise and Loud Music
Noise is inevitable. It is everywhere, including inside us. We can handle external noise to a certain degree. Nevertheless, extreme noise can be very stressful.
Music is wonderful for our brain and keeping our mood. However, listening to loud music non-stop is a known stress creator. Our brains need rest and quietness sometimes.
Blocking noise, refraining from noisy environments, giving rest from listening to loud music can reduce stress to some degree.
Here are some possibilities to address these stress-creating situations.
1 - You may consider a social media fast.
2 - You may reduce unnecessary meetings by using different communication strategies.
3 - You may reduce sugary drinks and simple carbs and replace them with more nutritious food.
4 - You may reduce cardio and replace it with more strength training.
5 - You may challenge thoughts concerning matters beyond your control.
6 - You may have a more organized environment and clear mental clutter.
7 - You may use noise blockers and have breaks from listening to loud music.
Thank you for reading my perspectives. I wish you a happy and joyful life.
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