Ask The Expert
October 31, 2011
Any psychiatrist might answer your question with a question. Because any truly useful tips should flow from understanding where your stress comes from. For example, dealing with a conflict at home is different from managing an overload at work. Or handling stress that seems to come from nowhere, without any pressure you can identify.
What is stress? It is an automatic physical response to anything that requires you to adjust to change. Every time you feel threatened, your body triggers stress hormones. These hormone surges make you ready to fight the threat or run from it. Your heart pounds. Your muscles tense. You breathe more deeply and quickly. And you begin to sweat.
This response evolved in the days when we were mostly hunters and gatherers. Unfortunately, it is not well suited to modern life. Todays dangers are more psychological than physical. Yet your body may still go into hyperdrive. It feels uncomfortable. And over time, if your stress response gets stuck in the on position, it can be bad for your health.
Some stress is good. It can keep you engaged and motivated. You make progress in life by learning to deal with challenging situations. And that can help you feel more satisfied or happy. But most of us want to keep stress in a manageable range.
So here are some tips to lower stress: