How can you manage to get everything you need to do done without getting stressed out? The first thing that we need to understand is that not every form of stress is bad. A little bit of stress can actually be good for you.
In 1908, two psychiatrists – Yerkes and Dodson, have concluded that both people with too much stress, and those with too little stress, have learned less than those with moderate levels of stress (they are the ones that have learned the most). When the level of stress is too low, then you don’t necessary care about the things you’re doing and your performance decreases. When you are overstressed, you may experience elevated anxiety and your learning and performing ability may suffer as well.
In 1974, Richard Lazarus published a model which divided all stress to positive and negative. When the stress slows down performance (physical or intellectual, like in a strenuous exercise or challenging work) it is considered negative stress. Prolonged stress which does not get resolved by coping and adapting may lead to anxiety and depression.
The differentiation between experiences leading to negative and positive stress is defined by the differences between reality (real or imaginative), personal expectations and ability to deal with stress. A person who lives his life in a way that matches his expectations may not experience anxiety at all, even if the conditions in his life may look inferior to an outsider- peasants can live in a relative poverty and still not feel stressed out if the resources will meet their needs and expectations. When there is a clash between reality and expectations it’s possible to reduce stress if we would adjust our expectation to the existing reality or to the current conditions. Harsh reality, real or imagined can cause anxiety. And in the long run it can lead to reduced health. At the same time, stress can improve memory, as long as it for a short period of time and not exaggerated. Stress drives more glucose to the brain, and it gives more energy to the neurons and increases memory. On the other hand, if the stress lasts too long, the glucose is being delayed and the ability to remember is getting damaged.
Dealing with high levels of stress:
The first thing is to recognize it, since it is difficult to notice when the stress elevates to such levels that it becomes negative.
The warning signs manifest themselves in emotional, social and physical ways. They include fatigue, increased or decreased appetite, headaches, crying, insomnia. Escaping the situations with alcohol, drugs or any other form of fun related activity is also a warning sign. Stress may be accompanied by feelings of frustration, apathy or anxiety.
Managing stress is the ability to be in control when the situation or the events around you demanding too much of you. Here are some strategies to help you control stress reactions:
- Look around you
-see if there is anything you can do to control the situation
-make realistic goals
-reduce the amount of events in your life to reduce the overload.
-physical activity such as jogging, going to the gym or gardening may reduce stress.
- Managing / prioritizing projects
-remove yourself from the stressful situation
-give yourself some rest, even if it is for a few moments a day
-don’t try to do all the work at once. Deal with each task one by one or by certain priority criteria.
-take care only of the most important thing and ignore all the non-essentials.
- Learn the best way to relax
-meditation exercises and breathing have proven to be beneficial for controlling stress. Practice cleaning your head of bothersome thoughts.
-change your behavioural patterns, but not all of them at once. Focus on one annoying thing and control your reactions to it. Change the way you see things.
- Do something for others and it will distract you from your own situation.
- Make sure to get enough sleep – lack of sleep only increases stress.