There have been many studies in regards to the connection between a person’s physical health and the onset of stress.  One theory describes the General Adaption Syndrome which is a person’s way of dealing with stress.  The way this process works is that when the body sees or identifies a threat to itself it will produce hormones, such as adrenaline, and will continue to do so as long as the threat is there.  This causes stress to the body, which, in turn, causes the side effects of stress, such as sweating, anger, etc.  If this stress continues then fatigue sets in, causing the body to go into a state of exhaustion.  For example, you have been called in to see your boss in five minutes but don’t know why.  Your mind goes wild with different scenarios and your heart starts to race and your hands start to sweat.  After the meeting, you can feel tired or exhausted because of the amount of stress it had on you.  And that’s when you ask your coworkers to go for a drink after work as a way to alleviate stress.

I know that when it is going to be a stressful day, I put safeguards in place. Safeguards are tools we use in order to combat the side effects of stress.  These safeguards can include a morning meditation, a cup of coffee watching the sun rise, or my particular favorite safeguard, and that is to exercise before my busy day begins.  Now these safeguards can also be things you do at the end of the day.  If I know I’m going to have a stressful day, then I make plans to have a long bath when I get home (probably with a nice bottle of cabernet), or a run around the neighborhood.  Sometimes I will make plans to get a drink at the end of the day with friends or coworkers (especially after having that meeting with the boss).

If you have children, like I do, then it can be difficult to have certain safeguards, but it is not impossible.  It is important to plan around your life for destressing and make sure that your children can destress as well.  Many times, my safeguards are also my children’s safeguards; we will sit and read in the living together for 20 minutes or so.  Not the same books, mind you, but just being together in the same room, and doing a stress-less activity can go a long way. We also have family fun night (generally Monday fun day) where we eat together and play a game.  Sometimes, the games can be stressful (Settlers of Catan boardgame, or video games on the WiiU) but that sort of frustration from the games can actually help reduce the stress from your day.  Nothing helps me alleviate stress more than playing Mario Smash with my teenager and 9 year-old!  Whatever helps to make you feel less stress is a great safeguard to minimizing the side effects of stress.  We need to be careful, however, to make sure our safeguards are healthy ones.  Granted, drinking isn’t necessarily a healthy choice, but it can be safe choice if we do over do it.  A glass of red wine is healthy for you, and, for me, a great way to unwind at the end of the day.

Professor Mercy