ATLETA Fitness

Managing Stress: Stress Perception

Stress generally begins with a situation that unbalances your life. To balance yourself and alleviate the stress you need to adapt to the situation. Stress is a neutral word, therefore when a stress is placed upon us we can interpret the situation either positively, negatively or as a non-event. This is referred to as cognitive appraisal, and can be controlled in almost any situation.

When we are confronted with a situation or stress that we perceive to be negative (distress), feelings such as fear, anger and insecurity or feelings of being rushed, overwhelmed, frustrated and helplessness are commonly experienced. These feelings result in a physiological response including increases in serum cholesterol, respiratory and heart rates, muscle tension, blood pressure and blood glucose as well as suppressed immune response, cardiac muscle strength and digestive response. In turn a poor performance in study/work, poor interpersonal relationships and low self esteem often develop.

So when we are confronted by a “stressful” situation a common pattern is followed.

  1. An unbalancing, potentially threatening situation is encountered
  2. You interpret the situation as negative or threatening
  3. This causes an emotional response
  4. Your emotions cause a physiological response
  5. You are bound to the consequences of your negative reaction

This is the common pattern where stress is perceived to be negative, if you chose to make the “unbalancing situation” a positive occurrence or influence in your life, all the negative physiological and behavioural responses that can be associated with stress can be avoided. It is all about how you perceive and respond to the situation.

There is a positive to be taken from any situation! Some situations are more difficult to put a positive spin on, however, everyday we see individuals overcome adversity and better themselves in the face of tragedy, death, illness, injury, poverty, oppression and isolation. For example, if you lose a loved one you can chose to make them proud every day and take nothing in life for granted. You can choose to be the best you can be despite illness, injury or poverty (be it to get the most out of life or to inspire others with or with out your circumstances), the greater the situation/obstacle is to overcome, the more drive, hunger and motivation can be drawn from it! It’s not the easiest path, however it is the most rewarding path long term and you can grow from the experience.

Jumping on the beach

In summary, by changing your perception of a potentially negative circumstance you can use “stress” to adapt, better yourself and not let it dictate your health, happiness and the way you treat others. When you encounter these feeling associated with a negative stress response, step back from the situation and try to put it into perspective and construct a positive stress management plan.

For information on strategies to alleviate the negative effects of stress and develop a stress management plan via exercise, nutrition, mindset and lifestyle manipulation contact us today.

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