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By Dr. Alexa Altman
We all know what stress feels like, however it is difficult to define because it can present itself in so many different ways. Hans Selye defined stress as "the body's response to certain demands". Usually stress is experienced when a situation threatens a person's sense of freedom or control. Stress (roughly the opposite of relaxation) is a medical term for a wide range of strong external stimuli, both physiological and psychological, which can cause a physiological response called the general adaptation syndrome. Selye described the general adaptation syndrome as having three stages:
Stage 1: ALARM: where the body detects the external stimulus
Stage 2: ADAPTATION: where the body engages defensive countermeasures against the stressor
Stage 3: EXHAUSTION: where the body begins to run out of defenses
What stage are you in? The goal is to attend to yourself "before" you reach STAGE 3: EXHAUSTION. You can better protect your body by learning some coping tactics.
Experiment this week:
Remember to breath!
One of the easiest ways to relax yourself when you feel stressed is to spend a few minutes breathing. People who feel stress tend to hold their breath, take shallow breaths or hyperventilate. All of these behaviors cause further stress in the body. When you attend to your breathing your body AUTOMATICALLY begins to RELAX. YOUR BODY CANNOT BE STRESSED AND RELAXED AT THE SAME TIME.
Instead of reaching for food when stress hits. STOP and BREATH
Communicate assertively! Stress if often a byproduct of feeling a lack of control. Stress threatens your personal power. One way you can begin to reclaim control and power in your life is to assert yourself. Being assertive does not mean being aggressive. Assertiveness means being honest with yourself about your needs and feelings and being able to express them to others in a "nonthreatening way". First, you need to believe that you are entitled to take care of yourself by responding assertively to situations. To communicate assertively: