Monday, September 17, 2012

Reactions to Stress

Source: skinnyms.
What do you think of when you hear the word stress?
I usually think of busy, chaotic and the unknown. Funny though, when I am busy I don't always feel stressed. Everyone feels stress from different sources and everyone reacts to stress differently. It is also important to remember that stress can come in both good and bad forms. 

I feel negative stress the most when I feel negative emotions. I joked around with my husband saying that if I could not feel my negative emotions I would have no stress. He quickly pointed out that if I did not feel my emotions it would lead to other problems. He is right. 

I have taken a good look at my emotional stress and how I react to it. Recently I have had all of the following negative emotions; hurt, disappointment, loneliness, and anger. A list that we probably have in common. What we may not have in common is what we do when we are faced with these emotions.

My instinct is to retreat when I feel these emotions. I tend to take the self-pity expressway directly to the closest hole I can find.  You can know when I am suffering from this when I don't show up at social events, don't post on blogs or Facebook, ignore my phone or put my Skype on do not disturb. 

Is this reaction good or bad? This is my coping mechanism. I cannot change my instinct for this type of reaction, although I can change the results from this reaction. For example, if I am huddled in for the day watching Lifetime movies (we don't even get Lifetime in China) I should not give in to eating junk, which inevitably speeds up the vortex of self pity. It is true that food might make things feel better at that split second (really that is how long it lasts) but minutes later your emotions will be back. Nobody wants to add guilt or self- ridicule to their list of negative emotions. 

Studies show that exercise is an excellent stress management tool. Unfortunately, because my stress usually comes from emotional stress I can almost feel myself weighted down when I exercise. That is not an excuse not to do it. Today I was dealing with some negative emotions and I literally felt my run was harder and more of a struggle. Another excellent reason to not hold on to these negative emotions and stress!

How do you deal with emotional stress? 
What has worked for you to keep your 
body and mind balanced and healthy?

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