4 Facts About Stress That Will Make You Less Stressed (Yes, Really)

With a title like that we imagine we’ve got your attention - it got ours too. Pretty much everyone we know (us included) is feeling the effects of stress. It is a culmination of the past few years, the unexpected effects of a global pandemic, the economic crisis and cost of living and just the general relentlessness of being a human.

These facts about stress we’ve provided will not only give you a new perspective on stress and its potential benefits, they will also give you some effective ways to manage the stress you feel in everyday life. 

1. Stress Can Be Good For You

Seriously.  Research by UC Berkeley has uncovered exactly how acute stress – short-lived, not chronic – primes the brain for improved performance. The study found that brief and significant stressful events caused stem cells in the brains of rats to actually proliferate into new nerve cells. These new nerve cells take two weeks to mature and lead to improved mental performance. 

So in real life terms how can we make this fact about stress work for us? Stress can definitely be less than fun, but if we do experience stress we can focus on the positive - that this event (provided it does not become chronic) can lead to new nerve cells to help us in the future.

2. Stress Makes You Stronger

Stress can build resilience, and we need resilience more than ever. By resilience we mean coping strategies, approaches and also an ability to withstand unexpected events in your life without being completely thrown by them. So in real life it might mean that something unexpected happens, and instead of panicking or crumbling, you can collect your thoughts and make a plan and cope with what has happened.  If you have been through difficult times and come out the other side, then you know this fact about stress is true. Being able to build your coping skills can take time and be difficult but it is worth it. 

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3. Stress Is Telling You Something Important

Chronic stress is your body’s way of telling you that whatever is happening is not sustainable. The symptoms of stress, like brain fog, fatigue, digestive and hormonal upsets are messages from your body telling you that changes need to be made. Chronic stress is a hard one, there are some things that are out of your control, such as financial stress, chronic and terminal health issues and relationship stress.

While we can’t magic up millions of dollars, a house and a perfect relationship, you can start to be an active participant in your own life. A fact about stress that everyone can relate to is that when you are stressed out, everything is hard. So, it can be difficult to make active choices to reduce your stress. It takes more effort and energy, but if you don’t start somewhere it will continue to get worse. So start small. 

4. Ways To Help Cope With Stress

We hope these facts about stress shed some light on this important bodily process and that it gives you a new appreciation of how stress can be an important cue to changes that need to be made. But we also wanted to share some ways that you can help cope with stress. 

Meditation. This gives you space to be able to see the problem and not react to it emotionally. Headspace has great courses on how to re-frame your thinking on certain issues. I have completed one recently on impatience, which talked about being able to recognise and notice your thought patterns. Actively noticing your stress allows you space to move through it.

Breathing. Oldie but a goody. A fact you will know about stress is that it causes shallow breathing. Taking time to pause and breathe deeply resets our nervous system and moves us out of flight or fight mode.

Some more ways to cope with stress include:

  • Set a bedtime routine.
  • Have a regular bedtime. You can set this as a reminder on your phone and you could aim to be in bed by 9.30pm to try and get a good nights sleep. 
  • Have a timer on your phone every 30 minutes to remind you to get up and move, stretch or breathe.
  • Try and have less social media in your life. In particular make sure you look at the view outside your bedroom first before your screen ( this has been proven to reduce stress levels).
  • Have one meal a day that you know you feel good having. When stressed we live on caffeine and sugar, so instead of re hauling all your meals. Pick one. 
  • Consider a multi vitamin. Julia Ricklidge has undertaken studies on the effects of micronutrients on our brain and how it can help our stress response.  Even a Berroca could be enough to help.
  • Water. Always helpful - and actually essential to support clear thinking, digestion and skin health.
  • Fun. Find something you think is fun and try and do that for 5 minutes a day. Love true crime podcasts? Awesome. Listen to that. A fan of reality TV? Want to knit something? Love reading? The options are endless. Five minutes a day. That’s not a lot of time and you will start to look forward to it.
  • Try and eat within 20 minutes of waking and choose a protein breakfast. Simple ideas could be porridge with nut butter, eggs, apples with nuts heated in ghee and cinnamon (almonds, sunflower seeds are amazing for this. This breakfast gives you good fats, cinnamon for blood sugar support and protein).
  • Have good snacks every 3-4 hours. Fruit, nut butters, cheese, smoothies.
  • Include carbohydrates for brain function and energy. Look for complex carbohydrates like grains, potatoes, kumara etc.
  • Fasting works well for some people, but some people need to have regular food intake to support hormones and blood sugar levels. Instead of fasting, maybe just don’t snack after dinner and use that as your fast.
We don’t want to over promise and say the facts about stress will stop you feeling stressed forever - we are just hoping to highlight something small you might be able to implement into your day. 

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