What Are The Three Stages Of Stress And How To Cope
Are you struggling with excessive stress and finding yourself unable to cope? If you are this article may help. We'll be exploring the three stages of stress and giving you helpful tips for handling and relieving stress in a healthy way.
Not everyone's experiences with stress are the same nor are people's stressors. However, most of the time stress does move through the same general stages as people work through it, and understanding these three stages can be helpful in effectively coping with it. The stages are:
The first stage of stress is your body's immediate reaction to the stressor (realizing a project is due at work, being unable to pay a bill, etc.). Typically, your body's initial stress response is strong as it works to fight the stressor; you may notice an increased heart rate, sudden sweating, nervous fidgeting, and more as your body reacts to the cause of your stress. This reaction is part of our innate tendency towards a "fight or flight" response, which results in a burst of adrenaline through our system.
The second stage of stress is where our bodies attempt to return to a normal balance, counteracting the "alarm" response in the first stage. Generally, when you enter into this stage you will begin to feel calmer-almost as if they stress has disappeared-and have the false sense that you are no longer under any mental duress. However, this is merely another way your body attempts to handle stress, which means over time your body cannot maintain it.
The final stress stage is exhaustion, which results from your body's trying to combat stress for an extended period of time. Typically, in this stage you'll find yourself feeling run down and with far less energy than normal. You may fall ill easier as your immune system can also weaken due to stress. This stage is a signal that your stress is severe and most likely chronic or long-term.
If you feel you're experiencing the three stages of stress and that you are unable to successfully cope with stress in your day-to-day life there are things you can do to help.
- Attempt positive thinking - You might feel like it won't help, but continually making an effort to have positive thoughts about stressors can make whatever it is you're stressed about appear less daunting.
- Simple relaxation techniques - These can help you calm down before stress becomes severe and include taking a few deep breaths, going for a walk, watching a TV show you enjoy, and receiving a hug from a loved one.
- Distract yourself - If what you're stressed about is out of your control attempting to distract yourself can be an effective way of coping. Try meeting up with a friend, starting a new hobby, getting some work done around the house, or volunteering for a local cause.
It's important to note, however, that there are times when you simply can't effectively deal with stress on your own. In those cases it can be helpful to seek treatment from a professional to make sure you're taking care of your mental health. Online counseling sites like BetterHelp.com offer a convenient and private way to connect with a licensed counselor who can help you cope with stress.