Luke Hanson, academic advisor and postbac at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, capsule contributor
Stress. I think it’s fair to say that we’re all feeling it now, whether it’s corona virus, the markets, business, job insecurity, food shortages … the list goes on. The negative effects of stress on health are well documented and have been studied for over 70 years. Stress can cause or exacerbate a variety of physical problems, including increased blood pressure and blood sugar, increased risk of heart attack, headache and stomach pain, insomnia, heartburn, weakened immune system and sexual dysfunction, to name a few.
In short, stress comes from our brain, which releases cortisol and adrenaline when our body says we are in a fight or flight situation. Adrenaline increases our blood pressure and heart rate, while cortisol increases sugar in the bloodstream and limits the functioning of systems that are not essential at the moment, such as the digestive and reproductive systems. When our ancestors hunted aggressive woolly mammoths? Great time to have an extra spring in your crotch.
Prolonged stress and elevated cortisol levels are anything but great. Along with negative physical effects, they can lead to increased mental effects by affecting memory or concentration.
Capsule’s sixth mission focuses on connecting mind and body, especially when the body controls the mind. Or at least tries and is programmed for it. Even in quarantine, we can do pushups in our rooms to reduce the adrenaline. We can use the time saved while commuting to sleep. We can stock up on frozen vegetables instead of crackers: our gut health has a big impact on our stress.
Stress is our reaction to external situations. The virus is a massive outside situation that has caused countless additional ones, and yes, they are stressful. The number of positive tests and deaths increases every day. But while stress is becoming well-known and well-known, it serves as a harbinger of anxiety.
Fear comes from within. This is how we as individuals react to stress. We create it based on our brain and experience.
I am stressed that my gym is closed. I am concerned that I will never be optimally healthy or happy with my body, or lose any gains that I have made, or ultimately be accepted.
I am stressed out about the dollars and the percentage decrease in my pension account. I am concerned that one day I will no longer have a safety net and will be really helpless to take care of myself.
I am stressed that my campus is closed and working from home. I am concerned about the health and well-being of my students and about dropping something through the cracks and being what fails in these times and in general.
I am stressed about being a carrier for corona and accidentally infecting others. I am concerned about being cancer for society and especially for my parents.
This is one of those times when it is not okay to feel the stress. But it doesn’t have to be one that completely determines your life and your physical and mental well-being.
A basis for practicing cognitive behavioral therapy is, as Helpful in Capsule’s first mission, controlling your behavior and your thoughts. It’s about reshaping your thoughts from fearful extremes (ie “We’ll all die, the world will never be the same”) to something more neutral, like “We take all precautions” or “The world” has gone through these crises before and is came out well at the other end. ”
Here are some other practical ways I can relieve stress.
I speak and listen more to people by separating from what’s not so important right now. I’ve spent more time on my phone in the last week (than the actual phone) than the rest of the year combined.
I am more aware of my surroundings. Sure, this involves distancing and washing my hands even more, but I also try to be more aware when I leave my apartment about the scope, opportunity, and beauty of my community.
I walk my dog more. It’s not the gym, but music and podcasts are great, and bourbon is a great, low impact workout partner. He’ll be incredibly spoiled when it’s all over and he’ll go back to three good walks a day, but in the meantime he’ll keep me focused and grounded and help me appreciate this alternative to lifting weights.
I don’t go out to eat, which makes me aware of my food. I have a terrible habit of making poor health and financial choices based on convenience and taste, and I use this time as a challenge to take control of my diet.
I find out how to contact my colleagues while our office is closed. It enables me to think like a manager and develop and develop non-traditional communication skills that I can’t imagine will ever be a bad skill.
I focus more on creating daily schedules, from big goals to things so small that I drink enough water. I expect an office routine to help me work this way, and while working from home, I want to build more independence on these planning and self-care skills.
I don’t want to downplay the state of the world or others’ experiences at the moment. I understand that things are generally bad and terrible for some people. To keep this up, I try to focus on my stressors every day, where they come from and how I can use them to get out of it better than I imagined. It’s a big challenge to put someone on, but if you are able to do that, you may be able to flip the script at your own stress and make it the driver for better results once our world returns to normal.
If possible, don’t run away from your thoughts and feelings now. Use self-confidence to understand and manage them. It not only helps you to find your way around the situation, but also thrives in it.