Stress

Stress is a response to a real or imagined threat. The number one stress producing chemical is cortisol which is released in the brain when we experience a stressful stimulus. The hormones released trigger our bodies to go into the fight or flight response. Our body stays in this response until our brain tells us that the stimulus has dissipated. Stress is subjective and we all experience it differently, mentally and physically. Our body fights cortisol by releasing acetylcholine and oxytocin to combat the effects or cortisol.

Healthy stress management techniques include:

  • Find your breath throughout the day. No matter where we are, we have our breath to use as a tool. Breathe consciously and deeply is the important part of feeling relief. Try practicing the 4-2-8 breathing technique. Breathe in for the count of four, hold your breath for two seconds, and breathe out to the count of eight.

  • Stretch and move around. Release the tension that's been building in your arms, upper back and neck by stretching your limbs and going for a brisk walk.

  • Stay active. Moderate to intense physical activity for 30 minutes a day help us to release feel good chemicals in our brains. Any form of physical activity from resistance training to yoga will have long lasting benefits on stress levels.

  • Be mindful. Practicing being present in each moment throughout the day, and returning to the moment when our minds drift, allow us to feel more in control of our lives and experience life fully.

  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep. Lack of sleep leads to irritability and adds to stress.

  • Turn off technology. Give yourself a break from cell phones, computers and television before you go to bed. Sit quietly and meditate, or catch up on your reading.

  • Participate in enjoyable activities. Whether it's listening to music, talking with friends, watching your favorite movie/TV show, or getting outside in nature, engaging our senses leads to higher levels of happiness.

 

Click here to view all the stress management/resiliency resources available to caregivers.