Thinking about how to pay the mortgage, that you might be late for an important conference because of a traffic jam, that you still have to turn in a report, that you have to pick up the kids from school, what the family wants to eat for dinner, that you can't forget your friend's birthday… This is everyday life for many of us. And often we don't realize that the stress and anxiety created by all our worries become the worst enemies for our body and mind.
Stress is the process we set in motion when we perceive a situation or event as threatening or believe that a requirement exceeds our capabilities. Often these situations are related to changes that require an excessive effort and put our personal well-being at risk.
Constant, nervous anxiety, however, is a reaction that is not related to a specific event, but occurs even after a disturbing experience has passed. In this sense, we continue to feel a sense of panic about our work, our relationship, or some other thing that was just the original trigger. Anxiety installs itself due to excessive and prolonged stress, leading to many different sensations and negative health consequences.
Stress and emotions
According to a study conducted by neuroscientists at New York University (New York, USA), therapies for emotional disorders such as anxiety or nervousness may have limited success if the patient continues to be exposed to stress, even in moderation. Elizabeth Phelps, the study's lead author, explained that scientists have long suspected that stress can impair the ability to control emotions.
To treat emotional disorders, therapists sometimes use cognitive restructuring techniques that help patients think and act in a different way, thus modifying their emotional response. The experiment conducted by the University of New York was to investigate whether these techniques work in real life, under everyday stress.
To do this, the researchers induced fear in participants by showing them images of spiders or snakes, in some cases accompanied by a mild electric shock. In this way, the participants were conditioned to be afraid of these images. As a result, participants were taught techniques to reduce the anxiety they experienced from this experiment.
The next day, participants were divided into two groups, a stress group and a control group. Participants in the stress group held their hands in ice-cold water for three minutes and those in the control group in lukewarm water. After that the distribution of steroids were assessed.
To understand this last part, we need to know that steroids are released in response to stress. Participants in the stress group showed higher steroid levels than those in the control group. When shown the images of snakes and spiders again, the control group responded with less anxiety.
How to reduce stress and anxiety
We all have stress in our everyday life, we run from one place to another, we get tired, we are late, but the important thing is to avoid such stress, which is long lasting and can develop into something worse.
Below, we'll introduce you to some techniques for dealing with and reducing stress and anxiety to help you feel better health-wise:
- Do sports. One of the main pieces of advice always given to reduce stress is to exercise. It's not about spending hours in the gym, it's about moving, walking a little faster, going for a jog, or driving to the country for a walk. Think about what seems pleasurable to you and get active. Physical exercise releases endorphins, the so-called "happiness hormones", which make you feel better and free you from stress.
- Organize your time. We all have many tasks to do, but if you don't allow time for each one, we end up feeling like we didn't get anything done at all. It's all about creating a daily and weekly schedule and giving each task a time that we need to complete it. In this time we should not be disturbed by our cell phone, by messages or calls. There may be unforeseen emergencies, but not every day.
- Learn to say no. Sometimes you are very afraid to say no because you don't want to hurt another person or because you are afraid of their reaction, but in the end we are only hurting ourselves and doing things we don't want to do. Try to learn to refuse those tasks that only take away your time but give you nothing. Do not be afraid, because usually others understand and respect our decisions.
- Set priorities. Another mistake we make every day is not clearly defining which things can wait and which cannot, deciding what is really important and what is not. When we learn to prioritize, we can do things properly and avoid stress because we 1.having to do 000 things at the same time without being able to finish one of them.