By: Brianna Valleskey
[TRANSCRIPT] It's Monday, which means I'm not wearing any makeup, no contact lenses, and I'm already pretty sufficiently stressed for the week. I start to stress about Mondays around 3 or 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, which is not healthy. So, I've been trying to learn more about stress and stress management.
I grabbed this book off of Amazon, "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers." It's by Robert Sapolsky. He's a great researcher, great science writer, and he makes it really easy to understand the research in laymen's terms. Here's what I've learned so far.
1. When we experience stress, it triggers all these stress responders in our body, and that's why you feel an increased heart rate, an increase in adrenaline, inhibited digestion. Those responses are actually really nifty tools if you're a zebra, for instance, being chased by a lion across the Sahara. If you're a starving lion, and you better be able to sprint across the savannah and eat that zebra so you don't die, those stress responders are also really helpful.
2. But most of the things we stress about nowadays (traffic jams, money, work, relationships), while they're very real to us, they aren't "real" in the sense that a zebra or lion would understand. They're psychological stressors, but they still create those same physical responses that are meant to get us out of short-term crises.
3. Prolonged stress can make you sick. If you repeatedly turn on the stress-response, or if you cannot turn it off after stressful it events, it becomes very damaging to your health.
So how do we deal with it? Both in this moment and the rest of our lives ... or at least to get through the rest of this week.
Step One: Control what you can. Not past events or future events or other people, but yourself and your response to them. Even if that means stopping in the middle of a stressful situation and taking ten deep breaths and ten big gulps of water (because we could all use more water in our lives), just take a moment to regain control and don't let that stress overtake your entire day.
Step Two: Create some form of predictability in your life, whether that's in your routine or how you consume information. Stress is often triggered by unexpected and unpredictable events. Obviously, we can't predict everything, but try to create some familiarity in your lifestyle.
Step Three: Have a hobby or an outlet to release your frustrations. I exercise as many days a week as I can. And if I can't exercise, I always make sure to walk my 10,000 steps. I write on my blog; I write in a journal; I even make videos from time to time as an outlet. So find something that works for you and keep doing it.
Step Four: Find sources for social affiliation and support. We're tribal by nature. Human beings need each other. We need each other. It's not enough to just socialize. You need actual meaningful relationships with people so you can rely on them to hear you when you're stressed and provide comfort.
Those are my quick tips for dealing with stress, thanks in large part to Sapolsky and his research. Feel free to comment or respond with any other ideas you have for stress management. I'm open to all of them. Other than that, have a great day and a great week!
Fearless Thoughts are my insights on marketing, entrepreneurship, growth, mindfulness, creativity and whatever else comes to mind on any given day. Writing is how I make sense of the world.