New ways to deal with stress

New ways to deal with stress
02.04.2020

Stress is the adverse inner reaction that people experience when they come into contact with excessive pressures that they fail to handle.

When there are too many outside triggers or stressors, like today amid COVID-19 pandemic and unfolding economic crisis, then our own inadequate inner reactions can easily cause us emotional and mental overload that leaves us incapable of dealing with stress reactions. 

Experiencing this pressure within our minds (mind) is stress. Feeling it constantly is chronic stress. With repeated exposure to external stressors, the organism habituates to the stressor with repeated and sustained hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis activation. 

A stressful situation makes our heart pound, quickens our breathing, makes our muscles tense and can cause sweat. This combination of intrapersonal reactivity to external pressures or threats is also known as the "fight-or-flight" response as it was the human survival mechanism that enabling people to react quickly to life-threatening situations around us. 

This instantaneous sequence of hormonal changes enabled us to fight actively in case of external threat or flee to safety. But now we are stuck in our homes and we cannot fight or even take a flight to anywhere. So, we are pound to learn how to replace this inner reactivity with the aware response or suffer.

Let's look at what stress can cause in our daily lives. The biggest threat to us is that in the current situation the stress can restrict adequate actions when we need them the most:

  • We may stop working effectively from home;
  • Inadvertently reduce the support for our children while they are home schooling;
  • Or act irrationally while shopping or going about other “normal” daily tasks. 

During the virus outbreak, irrational actions and staying on ‘autopilot’ is dangerous as when we need to be more mindful than ever before during our lives. We need to be fully aware of how we protect our physical bodies. We need to be mindful of keeping social distances and knowing what we touch while shopping or doing things that were no brainers before the pandemic.

Stress can lead to many health and relationship problems

Stress is not only the main pathway to burnout and the main cause of several mental illnesses (such as depression, anxiety), stress also reduces our immunity and also causes directly many physical illnesses and physical health problems like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, eating disorders, insomnia, etc. 

Lacking the skills of stress management can also trigger anger or other irrational emotions. This can again lead to serious relationship problems both at home or with your colleagues that take a long time to solve.
 

 

 

The stress prevention strategy is always the same

It does not matter what triggers stress. Stress prevention strategies are always the same: 

  1. Removing inner reactivity;
  2. Becoming aware of your awareness 
  3. Responding with the full awareness that enables you to make aware decisions.

Yes, you read correctly. No external stress trigger really matters without our own inner reactivity, as we would not experience it to be a problem in our inner domain. 

Do you remember some situations where one person has a huge problem and someone else next to that person stayed fully calm? The situation was the same, reactivity within two persons was different. So, would you like to be that calm person? Would you like to act always adequately? Would you love to have practical skills that allow this?

This demands that we focus on prevention and personal sustainability. Practical intrapersonal skills are something that enables you to nip stress activation in the bud. When you learn practical intrapersonal skills that you can apply for staying well and responding adequately you will be well. 

By taking personal responsibility for our intrapersonal processes we become aware of how to respond and this leads us to a pathway for solving problems. This enables us to make the needed changes around us so that the economy can be restored after the crisis, personal and work relations thrive. Our inner sustainability starts then to pave a pathway to a more sustainable society and work models.

We encourage all employers to support their employees to provide them access to stress and burnout prevention strategies along with proactive mental wellness courses. 

We all need to become mental wellness pioneers, as when the pandemic ends, we need people who are fit to work and ready to innovate more sustainable ways to live, work and thrive than the previous GDP growth-orientated economy was.