Managing stress in our busy lives

Originally published in the Kenosha News

By Health and Well-being Educator, Mary Metten

In the busy day-to-day, life gets stressful.

It is difficult to tend to the list of things that need to be done, should have been done and already have been done. Our lives are on the move. We learn to multitask as a way to get to everything and everyone. That is not even taking into consideration parts of life no one plans for and cannot control.

Going at this pace will undoubtedly lead to feeling stress, which is the body’s response to danger. This danger can be physical, psychological, real, perceived and any combination of the four.

Types of stress

Instances of short-term stress, or acute stress, can be helpful to motivate you or keep you safe. Acute stress can even result in an exhilarating or exciting memory.

But acute stress is not all fun and excitement. It can be exhausting and manifest physical symptoms leading up to and during the stressful situation.

Another type of stress is episodic acute stress. This is characterized as frequent instances of acute stress. This can present as someone that seems to lead a chaotic life, is perpetually going through crisis or experiencing stress through seemingly endless worry.

This type of stress can result in ongoing physical symptoms, heightened stress hormones and can lead to having more difficulty in interactions and relationships.

The third type of stress is longterm stress, or chronic stress.

Chronic stress often does not appear or feel like acute stress. Chronic stress can eventually feel and become a person’s normal state, as circumstances feel unrelenting and continually present.

Chronic stress can negatively impact physical health, as well as mental health, in significant and long-term ways.

Managing stress through mindfulness

Thinking about managing stress is key.

Begin by examining the root cause, deciding which, if any, portions of the stress are within your control and how you can make lifestyle changes.

Beginning, changing and practicing small habits regularly can help you manage stress in the future.

What are you feeling in your body? An ache in your back, a pang of hunger?

When your mind starts to wander, keep bringing it back to the present and sit with the experience.

Simple practices like these are referred to as mindfulness, which trains your mind to be actively aware and in the present. Practicing mindfulness is working to a point of fully giving your attention to what you are doing.

It may not be easy to step back and allow yourself to slow down and focus on one thing. Having the skill of calming your mind and being able to focus can offer lasting advantages to your well-being.

Start slowly and in small increments, eventually training yourself and reaping the benefits.