Our nation is in transition and this is stressful. By definition the concept of stress relates to the perception of responsibilities, demands on your everyday life, your resources and your abilities. It’s not just our immediate environment, which includes things like our job, family, and our community influencing our experience of stress. The passage of time can be stressful, as can the broader system of the culture or demographic area we live within. Stress occurs when we perceive things happening we do not want; when our comfort zone is threatened. And for many of Americans, there are many uncertainties threatening how one will survive, live, and thrive.
I’m often asked by clients how to handle some of this. And my response is the same: It depends. The experience of stress is a complex mix of various factors including how one interprets what is happening, one’s demographics, experiences, habits, resources, and support. Most of the time, when we experience stress, (mostly distress, as stress can also be motivating for us and challenging), there is a sense of there being more than one may be able to handle. Or a perceived threat. It’s challenging not to become defensive when this happens. Yet, in order to effectively manage stress and to smooth the stress flow, there are several things a person can start doing.
- Find out what is triggering the stress. Is it an expectation you have of something? Is it the uncertainty of a situation? Sometimes, when we don’t know what is going to happen, this can cause much anxiety for us. We like certainty. We like our comfort zones. And being caught in a situation where we don’t have this can be very unnerving for many people. So it is helpful to identify what is happening for you and the potential source of the stress or anxiety.
- Soothe the nervous system. When we are in a “flight-fight” mode, it’s challenging to see beyond this space. Activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the system that helps with relaxation, reins in the chemical production of stress hormones and initiates restoration. Breathing exercises, yoga, and other forms of relaxation are helpful
- Take a proactive stance. When we experience stress and anxiety, sometimes there may be a sense of not having control or knowing what to do. This is where information gathering can be useful. Problem-solve. Ask others. Find out what options you have to take some sort of step. There are many organizations and agencies that will also help with this step.
There are many tools available to prevent, manage and reduce stress. You can find out more through my book, Stress Intelligence: 365 ways to smooth the stress flow, or my newly published book, Stress in the Modern World: Understanding Science and Society, available on Amazon. You can also find out more by visiting my website at www.drserenawadhwa.com.