This form of stress is easily acknowledgeable since we feel it physically. However, other types of stress exist, which can go unnoticed and still be detrimental to our health.
Stress can be responsible for cardiovascular diseases, digestive issues, hair, and skin problems.
But that’s not all. Stress can also inhibit weight loss, disrupt the menstrual cycle, and weaken the immune system.
That’s a lot, right?
That is the reason why it is important to recognize the different types of stress and learn how to manage them accordingly.
As its name suggests, situational stress is linked to a situation: a project, deadlines, an oral presentation, a job interview, or an important meeting.
It is pretty easy to recognize and feel these types of stress and its symptoms; sweaty hands, dry throat, fast heartbeat, or stomach cramps.
How to handle situational stress
Breathing. Respiration speed tends to increase when we are having a stressful time. The aim is then to take it under control.
An easy and effective exercise is to close your eyes, inhale for 5 seconds through your nose, and exhale for another 5 seconds through your mouth. Repeat 5 times or more.
Visualize. Most of the time, stress arises when we are scared to fail at something. A common reaction is to imagine the worse happening to “prepare ourselves” to a potential failure.
Even though these kinds of thoughts are human, visualizing how a situation could go bad increases negative vibes and the chances of actually failing.
When a circumstance is stressing you out, imagine the perfect scenario happening.
Focus on what will go well and practice affirmations: I will do it, I am prepared enough, everything is going to work out.
Yes, words you tell yourself do have a huge impact on the way you feel and act.
Orgasms. We usually don’t think of them as such, but orgasms have powerful anti-stress effects. Indeed, orgasms secrete a hormone called oxytocin which has been proven to reduce stress (source).
Meditation. We all know this by now, meditation is recommended to manage stress and anxiety. 10 minutes a day are enough to focus on oneself and remove negative thoughts that invade our head.
Physical stress is a type of stress endured by the body. Overtraining or dieting are the most common causes.
When the body is deprived of the required amount of calories, cortisol levels rise and put the body in “survival mode” which prevents the organism to function properly.
That’s why going on an extreme calorie deficit, dieting for too long, or not eating enough can prevent weight loss from happening: the body doesn’t feel safe and keeps fat to survive.
In the same way, although having a regular physical activity is recommended to manage stress, too much of it can be counterintuitive.
Training too much, for too long or not giving yourself enough rest time could cause even more stress in your body.
Struggling to lose weight, permanent fatigue, a weakened immunity system, frequent injuries or constant hunger are some of the consequences of physical stress.
How to manage physical stress
Rest properly. Resting is essential for your wellbeing but also to see progress happening.
When I first fell in love with weight training, I was obsessed with it and thought I needed to work out as much as I could to become better and better. I was wrong.
Muscles work during workouts AND after.
Not letting your body enough time to rest, repair damaged tissues, and reduce inflammation could prevent your muscles to fully grow. You will be more exposed to injuries too.
One of my favorite advice is to listen to your body. Don’t work out if your muscles are sore, you feel fatigued, you are injured, or sick. Allow yourself rest days where you can completely relax your body.
Stop dieting. We all know fad diets are detrimental to our bodies and minds. However, we still give them chances and it ends up being an endless loop.
Change your lifestyle instead and once again, listen to your body and its hunger/fullness signals.
If you are overweight and have to lose a consequent amount of weight for health reasons, it is recommended to go see a professional.
Learn to love your body. Society’s pressure on women to have a certain size or weight is huge nowadays. If you want to lose weight, ask yourself what is the true reason behind that.
Is it to please someone? To meet society’s standards? To look like this woman you follow on social media?
If that’s the case, then you’re probably not doing it for the right reasons and a weight loss won’t help you feel better about yourself.
Learning self-acceptance and self-confidence is to love yourself no matter what your body is going through.
Loving and being in line with yourself means liberating yourself of any pressure imposed by society to look a certain way.
Treat your eating disorders. Going through an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating represents a lot of stress to the body and mind.
If you are experiencing one of them, it is important to consider healing from it.
Counting calories for several years put my body and mind in severe stress conditions and made me develop compulsive eating habits.
In the beginning, I didn’t recognize it as an eating disorder but losing control of my body while eating made me realize something was wrong.
I shared my entire binge eating journey and how I healed from it in this article.
If you think you are suffering from an eating disorder, keep in mind that you are not alone and that you will find a way through.
Emotional stress is generated when a person feels unable to handle a situation.
Therefore, this type of stress is linked to our environment’s perception.
It can arise from toxic relationships, a lack of self-confidence, issues related to money, or work.
Symptoms associated with emotional stress are similar to depression’s ones: feeling lost, sadness, lack of self-esteem, mood swings.
Other responses can arise from threatening situations or the need to protect oneself: fear, anger, violence.
Manage emotional stress
Work on your self-confidence. Improving your self-esteem and acknowledge your potential will help in many situations.
Practice affirmations, write on paper your qualities and successes, be open to learning about something you don’t know about. Breathe, you can do it.
Related post : How to Acknowledge and Overcome the Imposter Syndrome
Surround yourself with supportive people. People you surround yourself with daily have a huge impact on your way to think, act, and perceive yourself.
To be able to grow, move forward, and become a better person, you need people who support you.
People who envy you, don’t believe in your abilities, or are only present when everything’s fun and fine don’t deserve to be by your side.
Learn to have an external vision of your relationships and get rid of those that impact your life negatively.
Acknowledge and accept your feelings. From an early age, we are taught to hide our emotions whenever they are negative: “Strop crying”, “I don’t want you to be sad”, “Don’t cry, you are strong enough”.
Yet, sadness, anger, fear are still emotions that need to be expressed, just as joy and happiness.
Hiding your feelings (or forcing yourself to do so) is like lying to yourself.
Whenever you are keeping your emotions to yourself, holding back tears, anger, or doubts is like ignoring them and acting as if they didn’t exist.
However, your emotions are still present within your body and will generate stress if they aren’t able to exit it.
You know how to do it with a good laugh, so allow yourself to cry and feel sad when that’s what you’re experiencing within yourself.
You’ll feel better afterward and your path will clear up.
Talk about it. Speaking to reliable people is just as important to free yourself from stress stuck in your body and mind.
Expressing how you feel will enable you to have an external point of view but also realize that you are not alone in what you are going through.
Putting words into emotions and speaking them openly can be difficult for some people. If that’s your case, I highly recommend you to start journaling instead.
I wrote an article on how journaling improves health and wellness and how it helped me overcome stressful situations.
As you can understand, stress is a common issue that we all face in different types of situations. Therefore, it is important to address it before it takes over our lives.
Let me know in the comments which are your favorite ways to manage your stress!