Stress is an often misunderstood word in our culture. In reality, it is simply a physiological response in reaction to a trigger, which manifests much the same in everyone. Examples of stress triggers include a traffic jam, confronting a co-worker, worrying about something you said, fear of being mugged, or imagining something bad is going to happen to you. When the stress response is triggered, stress hormones and chemicals are released into your body, which is preparing you for fight or flight (sympathetic nervous system). This may sound benign until you realize you do not have to be in actual danger for your body to trigger the stress response. By merely worrying, ruminating about the past, projecting into the future, or reacting to someone’s comment that “feels” threatening or harmful, your body triggers the stress response. This means that many times a day, you can release these chemicals into your system. Over time, the chronic release of these hormones and chemicals into your body, if left unmanaged, can contribute to many short-term and long-term health issues.
So the next time you tell someone you’re not stressed, you might want to reconsider whether that’s accurate. Ask yourself whether you have been angry with someone, worried, thought you were treated unfairly, or were fretting over something you just said. All of these things can throw your system into the stress response whether you realize it or not.
How to Avoid Stress Triggers: Most of your problems are in the past. Any problems in the future won’t look exactly like you think they will, and the vast majority of the time, worrying won’t help you prepare for them. To combat these unnecessary thoughts that bring on stress, try to focus on the present. Use one of our breathing exercises to bring yourself into the the present moment. This will allow you to be fully present and experience what’s happening NOW. Take one minute out of your day and give it a shot. Your body will feel the difference immediately.