Managing Stress And Anxiety

Managing Stress And Anxiety

Managing Stress And Anxiety

These days it is common to aver that one is stressed out. One who is not stressed out would be assumed as someone who has given up, as one who might not be successful. Well, stress is undoubtedly way more common than it ought to be. In this environment, a stress- free person would be the one who has learned to understand life, not one who might have given up on life.

Let us also clarify an important point: all stress is not bad.

Stress is critical for our survival because it acts as the warning system for the body if there is an imminent danger around. Our brain is programmed to react by forcing the body to increase the blood pressure and the heart rate in critical situations. This results in enhancing the focus of the body senses, which is crucial to a fight or flight response.

This ability of the body senses to become more focused helps to concentrate the task at hand, which, in turn, helps complete the job successfully. For example, if you are not stressed out before an exam, you may not want to prepare for it! Therefore, what we call “good” stress is required to force you to study for the exam.

We also tend to confuse stress with anxiety. Worrying about an impending deadline for a mortgage payment seems to become stressful because the body deals with anxiety by releasing the same chemicals it does for when it is dealing with stress. The body’s response, designed by Nature for a fight or flight response to save one’s life, becomes overused when one is just dreading dealing with an irate boss. As a result, even situations that are not life- threatening are seen by the body, as if they are. The work at the office, or a slight disagreement with a spouse, is enough to trigger the response that one would otherwise use for a fight or flight response.

The response to situations that do not require a fight or flight response is exaggerated enough to incur the harmful effects of stress. As a result, the body may not respond with the real fight or flight response, if the need arises. Prolonged anxiety confuses the body’s response since the defense mechanism used by it against anxiety and that against stress is the same. It is essential to manage anxiety, not just to prevent long-term health effects, but also to let the body respond appropriately in a real emergency.

Anxiety is like a slow killer. Chemicals released by the body for a prolonged period affect the heart, digestive system, and immune system besides causing several other ailments. Without anxiety, the body can use stress as the defense mechanism that it is meant for.

This is also what helps other creatures as well, to survive. They are under an unrelenting threat of survival, but they still manage to live to carry on with their lives. For example, they can all eat, sleep, procreate, and play without any signs of anxiety or stress.

It is not that the animals and insects do not see a threat in the future or that they just forget the past. Their survival instincts are a cumulative effect of their encounters with life in the past. When faced with a threat, their stress chemicals rush in to create their fight or flight response. Since animals and insects do not blur their stress response, which is critical for their survival, their stress response is at the peak. When faced with a threat, the chemicals released by the stress response can even make them insensitive to pain from hurt, so that they can continue to flee from danger without slowing down. No sooner the threat is over, the animals return to be in their present moment so that they can recuperate their stamina in whatever way possible. The animals do not seem to burden themselves with anxiety, ensuring the efficacy of their stress response, thereby helping them to survive.

Many professionals advise on stress and anxiety management. They suggest tricks like taking deep breaths or listening to soothing music if one feels stressed out. Stress and anxiety incapacitate decision making and reasoning to quite an extent. Therefore, it is impractical to expect one who is already stressed out to help oneself.

Meditation can proactively prevent stress or anxiety from building up.

Even though stress and anxiety are related to the state of mind, they first manifest as subtle sensations on the skin. For example, one may feel a rise in the temperature or as the appearance of sweat. Not everyone may feel the same kind of sensations. Still, a meditator would be aware of the subtle feelings that occur on the body before anxiety starts building up. When the slightest sensations are observed, one would be able to identify them as pleasant or unpleasant and stop oneself from reacting to them. As a result, anxiety buildup is obviated before it starts.

The awareness that adversity is ephemeral builds the mental fortitude to face the crisis. Meditation, therefore, trains the mind to accept the inevitable while making the understanding of the situation clearer. The resulting calmness and control of the mind enhance the ability to become prepared. This preparedness creates a feeling of security.

Meditation helps to stay focused on the present. One is aware of the upcoming situation that could cause stress or anxiety, but can still concentrate on the present moment. Anxiety is caused by continually thinking about an anticipated circumstance in the future or by being obsessed with what might have transpired in the past. Staying focused in the present moment stops anxiety from building up.

Anxiety is also caused due to a lack of trust in one’s own actions. One is often not sure if an activity should be carried out or not. Such a lack of confidence and trust in oneself can be adequately addressed by meditation. The calmness of the mind provides the conscience the necessary prominence that helps to know if the action that is to be undertaken is good or bad. This guidance by the conscience creates trust in one’s own actions. This trust engenders confidence.

Meditation trains the mind to make staying focused on the present, a habit. A focused and calm mind helps to stage a fight or flight response more efficiently. Therefore, even without one consciously making an effort, one can keep anxiety and stress at bay.