We all know how to handle the following scenario: We get in the car and the check engine light comes on. We groan with the thought of having yet another thing to take care of. We take the car to our mechanic and have him run diagnostics to determine what’s not operating optimally. He calls us with our options, we follow his sage advice and have him perform the recommended repair, pick up our vehicle, and move on. Problem solved!
But when we sense something is “off” in our lives with our general satisfaction or mental or emotional well-being, there’s a tendency to avoid tackling the issue and instead, we often bury our heads in the sand, hoping it will pass.
This approach is not only unproductive but unhealthy for our overall health!
Stress is an emotional feeling that arises from challenging circumstances. The way our bodies process these situations is known as the stress response, AKA the “fight or flight” response. This stress response creates actual changes to our hormones, our cardiovascular and nervous system, and even our respiration. This “fight or flight” response was critical for our ancestor’s survival during their hunting and gathering days, but we don’t deal with the same situations our ancestors once did (now that’s putting things into perspective!). Nonetheless, the ability to experience stress is still a part of our genetic predisposition. And the effects of ongoing stress are believed to cause significant damage to the body.
It’s easy to identify the big stressors that can really send things out of whack - relationship or family issues, any type of loss or trauma, and work issues or deadlines. But everyday stress is just as important to identify – it often presents as restlessness, irritability, exhaustion, feeling pressured or overwhelmed, and as difficulty completing tasks. It also tends to masquerade as headaches, muscle tension, shortness of breath, high blood pressure, chest pain or as the sensation of a racing heart, loss of interest in sex, sadness, depression, withdrawal, fear, anxiety, and very commonly in men, anger. And men who get angry when stressed tend to have even higher heart rates!
We’re more prone to the effects of stress because we typically manage stress differently than women, who tend to have large social circles. Our solitary behaviors are the perfect breeding ground for stress overload – panic attacks, frequent colds and infections, chronic worrying, avoidance techniques such as drinking or doing drugs, overeating, and smoking.
Left untreated, there’s a direct correlation between stress and disease - including heart disease - and chronic gastrointestinal issues, chronic pain, male fertility, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction. It is estimated that up to 80% of men’s doctor’s visits may have a stress precursor. There’s a better way, gents!
Stress is here to stay. So, let’s change how we deal with it.
First, seek support. Talk to someone – your doctor, a friend or colleague, your spouse, partner or a family member. Just venting to someone can relieve your stress and help you see things in a whole new light.
Also, minimize what you’re taking on. Not everything is critical and needs to be done now. What can you place on the back burner to help reduce your burden, so you don’t feel so overwhelmed? It’s bloody hell to try to take on the world.
Take extra care of yourself. Be active. Do what you can to manage your anger. Exercising, taking time for meditation, and spending time in nature can reduce your stress and will improve your sleep. When stressful times occur, ensure you are increasing your downtime and pleasurable activities to help balance things out.
Look, no one has ever triumphed over stress by going down the rabbit hole of isolation.
Spending time with your support network is critical when you’re stressed, even though it’s instinctive to want to withdraw. Try to stay connected more than ever. Isolation only compounds the situation.
When stress strikes, you need to be at the top of your game. Adopt these winning habits so you can begin to manage your stress, instead of allowing it to manage you.
Need more help with this issue? You’re not alone. Let’s connect for a complimentary, 20-minute phone consultation. Book through my website, Facebook page, or call 512-470-6976. There’s help in your corner, mate!
Lupis, S., Lerman, M., Wolf, J. (2014) Coping anger responses to psychosocial stress predict heart rate and cortisol stress responses in men and women. Accessed: https://doi-org.ezproxy.stedwards.edu/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.07.004
The American Institute of Stress (2019) How to tell when a man is stressed. Accessed: https://www.stress.org/how-to-tell-when-a-man-is-stressed
The American Institute of Stress (2019) Stress Effects. Accessed: https://www.stress.org/stress-effects
Webmd.com How Stress Affects your Health. Accessed: https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/what-is-stress#1