Fight or Flight, No Longer a Viable Option: How to Manage Stress in the Modern World

 Fight or flight is our bodies’ primitive and automatic response to stress.  In prehistoric times this response essentially saved mankind from extinction.  Imagine the primitive man walking back to his cave after a hard day of hunting and foraging when all of a sudden he is confronted by a saber- toothed tiger.  His stress level immediately rises; he realizes the only way to relieve his stress is to remove the stressor.  He has two options run (flight) or fight the beast.  Either way, the stressor will be removed and he can continue on his way to his cave; hopefully he is victorious in his fight but even if the saber- toothed tiger wins, the caveman’s stress will be relieved.Stress-ZebraStripes

 Unfortunately primitive man’s way of managing his stress is no longer applicable in the modern world.  You can not punch your boss in the face nor can you run out of a board meeting in tears and hide under your covers, at least not if you want to keep your job.  Today it is much harder, in some cases near impossible, to escape the stressors in your life.  Therefore, it is important to find methods of managing and coping with stress.

A simple search online produces many methods for managing or relieving stress.   Some of these methods are not practical for all people, such as; taking a break to nap, enrolling in an online course, going on vacation, and practicing yoga or meditation for one to two hours a day.  However, there are ways to relieve stress that anyone can do:

1) Learn to Ask for Help: Asking for help is not a weakness, but a strength.  It is a sign of someone who is aware of his or her weaknesses and wants to improve, it promotes better communication in the workplace, and it demonstrates a willingness to learn.

2) Learn to Say NO: Saying no to colleagues or friends may be difficult but it is essential to minimizing stress.  If you are already overwhelmed, adding more to your workload will only increase stress.  You should also consider whether or not the person asking for a favor would reciprocate a favor when you request one.

3) Practice Breathing Exercises: Breathing exercises can help clam you down and focus clearly at the task on hand.  One method is to close your eyes, inhale through your nose for the count of three, hold for 1, and exhale through your mouth for the count of five.  The second one simply increases the time, inhale for the count of five, hold for one, and exhale for eight.  Repeat this exercise a few times or until you feel your stress decreasing.  It can be surprising how much this simple exercise can help.

4) Exercise: If you have time, exercising is a great way to relieve and manage stress.  Exercise has been proven to improve ones mood.  It also provides a distraction from problems and is an outlet for frustration.

5) Create a Schedule: Creating and maintaining a schedule helps keep you on track and focused.  A schedule can aid you in seeing what you have time for and what you don’t have time for.  It prevents you from over booking activities and making commitments you cannot keep.

6) Me Time: “Me Time” is time devoted exclusively to you and is vital in managing stress.  “Me Time” provides an escape to do anything you want.  During this time you no longer have to worry about the stress of work, family, financial problems, etc…  You are freed from the stressors in your life.

 Managing stress can be difficult and affect the quality of you life, which why it is crucial to find a way that best suits you.  Proper management of stress leads to a happier and more fulfilling life. 

Do you have any stress management techniques to add? Have you used any of the aforementioned techniques before and have they helped?

About The Author:

Erika Christenson is a Staff Writer with the Clear Medical Solutions Communication Team.  Her work is regularly shared on the Clear Medical Agency newsletter and the blog. 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.