#BrightonBrain - September 11, 2018

Can We Talk About Stress?

Usually, when I decide on a topic I want to pursue, I spend weeks pouring over the internets reading as much as I can on the subject. I find the best articles tackling the topic, take notes, and then start to formulate my own answer to the question in a way that resonates with me and that I hope will do the same for y’all.

But I had this crazy thought earlier this morning on my walk:

What if I let y’all into the process?

Instead of coming to you AFTER I’ve written this full-on blog post outlining the *answer* that I’ve come up with, how about I bring you into the finding-out stage. Instead, I can start presenting certain issues or struggles I’m experiencing and we can commiserate over how they’re affecting our lives. Then, maybe together, we can discuss (via the comments) ways that we’ve been able to get past the struggle – or just what has proven helpful. But the important part is that we are TOGETHER in the struggle.

So today I want to talk about stress because I’d like to write a value-add article on easy-to-apply coping strategies for dealing with it on a daily basis. I think it’s safe to say that we all deal with stress, right? But It looks different for everyone. I’d be willing to bet that some of you might even be stressed in your life right now and not even know it. I know that’s definitely been the case for me before.

Here’s What Got Me Thinking About It

well, other than the fact that it’s a very common human struggle…

A few months ago, I was reading a random HBR article about something I can’t remember (sorry, I have no idea which article this was) and they mentioned the physical manifestations of stress. For whatever reason, this was the only part of the article that stuck with me; and it has continued to occasionally pop up in my brain since then. Basically, the article discussed the physical effects of stress – like how our bodies (literally) physically respond to it. And this was fascinating to me! I’d never thought about it before and there’s a lot to learn here.

So ever since then, I’ve been paying more attention to my body’s warning signs of stress. And just thinking about stress in general – like what is it?

As I’m sure you probably know from your own experience, stress can be a good thing. It can motivate us and kick us in the butt to get things done when we need it most. But too much of it (like most things in life) can be a bad thing. In a sense, being “stressed” is sort of like being in 911-emergency-mode. It’s our body’s way of responding to threatening or demanding situations in an effort to protect you.

What is Actually Happening When You’re Stressed?

When you feel threatened, your body responds by releasing stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which throw you into emergency mode (aka flight-or-flight). Your heart beats faster, blood pressure rises, muscles tighten, breath quickens, and your senses become a little sharper. Coupled together, these physical changes increase your strength and stamina, improve your reaction time, and even enhance your focus. Your body responds this way in order to prepare you to either fight or flee the “dangerous” situation.

How Do I Know When I’m Stressed?

For me, I can feel it in my shoulders. But I did a little looking around on the internets and here’s what I came up with. Not only can it cause physical aches and pains, but It can also begin to impact just about every system in your body. It can suppress your immune system and upset your digestive and even reproductive systems. I also read that (wow this is intense) It can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, etc. Yikes!

Okay but I don’t really want this article to be one where I’m talking AT you.

Talk To Me

Instead, I want to get the conversation going and see – what aspects of STRESS are we interested in? Here are a few things to get your brain moving but PLEASE add and discuss in comments below:

  • How do you know when you’re stressed?
  • In what ways does your life fall apart when you’re “stressed”?
  • How does stress impact your brain? Is this interesting or nah?
  • Why do some people pretend it’s cool to be stressed and busy and scrambling around all the time?
  • How stressed is too stressed?
  • Can you chime in?