All human beings are subject to experiencing stress. According to an article published in 2011 by the Mayo Clinic, humans react psychologically and physiologically to stressors in life. However, the key of managing stress is to have awareness of how specifically you respond to life stressors.
The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University organizes stress in three different categories:
The positive stress (PS): The human brains have the capacity to manage the positive stress, even without much conscious participation from an individual dealing with PS. This stress is not harming per say.
The tolerable stress (TS): This type of stress is a level higher than the PS and the stressor event, usually lasts longer. The brain must work a little bit harder to bring the individual experiencing this type of stress back to his or her baseline.
The Toxic stress (TS). This type of stress can leave severe damage as TS is usually prolonged and not easy to manage. Failure to manage the TS can ended up hurting the person emotionally and physically. It is important to avoid experiencing TS as in children, this can put them at risk for a traumatic response which will cause them much psychological and physiological pain.
Stress response is subjective, and it affects humans differently. It is said that it is not the actual event that brings stress but is it the perception of the event that can be damaging. Here are some ways to be mindful of your stress response and to manage stress before it becomes toxic:
Be aware of your triggers (what is stressful for you) and your response to stress.
Learn coping skills such as breathing techniques, meditation, a physical exercise, a spiritual
practice, speak to someone you trust, speak to a mental health professional, practice yoga, or get regular massages etc., to lower your stress response.
Challenge irrational belief systems and replace them with rational belief systems, i.e., irrational- “nothing ever works out for me,” versus rational- “this project did not work out for me.”
Your mind can be your best friend or your worst enemy, yet you have the key to your mind. You can decide how to think and feel and behave.
Lastly, as parents, it is important to teach your children coping skills to help them manage their stress levels. Children access their emotional brain more than the rational brain; therefore, having coping skills to help them manage their stress level successfully is imperative. We cannot make stress go away, but it can be managed successfully with the consistent application of the coping skills that work for you.
Thank you for reading this psychoeducation article. Here are some additional resources for you to review about stress.
Author: Noé Vargas, DBH, SCC