Stress serves as the body’s alarm system designed to keep us alert and ready to respond to perceived dangerous or unfamiliar situations. As a result, we often experience stress in response to challenging or new situations that require our attention. Our stress response helps us stay alert, motivated and prepared to respond when necessary.
We all experience varying degrees of stress in our day. We might experience stress when approaching a project deadline, experiencing financial worries, juggling multiple commitments or during relationship conflicts.
Our body has two complementary systems which work in concert to help us respond to stress: one activates the stress response (otherwise known as the fight or flight response), and the other which promotes relaxation and helps us return to a state of calm (the rest and digest system). These systems work together to help us effectively deal with a potentially dangerous situation and then return to a resting state when the danger has passed.
However, problems can arise when our stress response is activated too frequently or too easily, and when we don't give ourselves opportunities to return to a resting state.
Chronic or excessive stress can have negative effects on our health and wellbeing. It can worsen mental and physical health, contribute to problems sleeping and relationship difficulties. Therefore, it is important to effectively manage stress by using healthy coping strategies that work for you. This can look like building healthy habits (exercise, sleep, nutrition) and regularly filling up your wellbeing cup by spending time with loved one’s, time outdoors, doing creative pursuits and practicing relaxation techniques.