Real Talk · Uncategorized

Can we talk about stress for just a minute?

Usually, once I decide on a topic I want to pursue, I spend days and even weeks pouring over the internet reading as much as I can or talking to friends and family on the subject, trying to learn everything I can about it. I find the best articles tackling the topic, I take notes, and then I start to formulate my own answer to the question in a way that resonates with me and that I hope will translate properly to you.

But I had this crazy thought late last night while I was out walking Winston:

What if I let you into the process?

Instead of coming to you AFTER I’ve written this full-on blog post outlining the “answer” that I’ve come up with, how about I bring you into the finding-out stage. Instead, I can start presenting certain issues or struggles I’m experiencing and we can talk about it together and how they’re affecting our lives. Then, maybe together, we can formulate (via the comments here and on Instagram) ways that we’ve been able to get past the struggle – or just what has proven helpful. But the important part is that we are TOGETHER in the struggles. Do you think this is weird or are you here for it?

So today I want to start by talking about stress because I’d like to write a value-add blog later on easy-to-apply coping strategies for dealing with it on a daily basis. I think it’s safe to say that we all deal with stress, right? But, stress looks very different for everyone. I’d be willing to bet that some of you might even be stressed out right now, right this minute and not even know it. I know that’s definitely been the case for me before. Last week I posted a little bit about it on Instagram and let you in on where my head is and I was honest when I said I was a mess – trying to do everything and nothing all at once!

Here’s what got me thinking about it

well, other than the fact that it’s a very common human struggle…

A few months ago, I was reading a random article about something I can’t actually remember (sorry, I have no idea which article this was or even where I found it) and they mentioned the physical manifestations of stress. For whatever reason, this was the only part of the article that stuck with me; and it has continued to occasionally pop up in my weird little brain since then. Basically, the article discussed the physical effects of stress – like how our bodies (literally) physically respond to it. And this was fascinating to me! I’d never thought about it before and there’s a lot to learn here.

So ever since then, I’ve been paying more attention to my body’s warning signs of stress. And just thinking about stress in general – like, what is it actually?

As I’m sure you probably know from your own experience, stress can be a good thing if used correctly and carefully. It can motivate us and kick us in the butt to get things done when we need it most. But too much of it (like most things in life) can be a bad thing. In a sense, being “stressed” is sort of like being in 911-emergency-mode. It’s our body’s way of responding to threatening or demanding situations in an effort to protect us.

What is actually happening when you’re stressed?

When you feel threatened, your body responds by releasing stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which throw you into emergency mode (aka fight-or-flight). Your heart beats faster, your blood pressure rises, your muscles tighten, your breath quickens, and your senses become a little sharper. Coupled together, these physical changes increase your strength and stamina, improve your reaction time, and even enhance your focus. Your body responds this way in order to prepare you to either fight or flee the “dangerous” situation.

How do I know when I’m stressed?

For me, I can feel it in my shoulders first and foremost. But, I did a little looking around and here’s what I have come up with. Not only can it cause physical aches and pains, but It can also begin to impact just about every system in your body. It can totally suppress your immune system and upset your digestive and even reproductive systems. I also read that (wow this is intense) it can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, etc. Yikes!

Okay but I don’t really want this article to be one where I’m talking AT you.

Talk to me!!

Instead, I want to get the conversation going and see – what aspects of STRESS are we interested in? Here are a few things to get your brain moving but PLEASE add and discuss in comments below:

  • How do you know when you’re stressed?
  • In what ways does your life fall apart when you’re “stressed”?
  • How does stress impact your brain? Is this interesting or not so much?
  • Why do some people pretend it’s cool to be stressed and busy and scrambling around all the time?
  • How stressed is too stressed?
  • Can you chime in?

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