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Monday, August 30, 2010

Acute Stress: 4 Steps To Ease Away The Effect

 By: Edward Laing


What is Acute Stress?

Acute stress is a term that was first used by an American physiologist, Walter Cannon in the 1920ís. It is defined as a rapid but short response to immediate threats, real or imagined, in the environment by a person, which produces physiologic, psychological and/or emotional strain in the mind and body.

Events such as seeing a car accident, getting one’s self into a fight or argument or being rejected by someone you like produces stress responses to a lot of people. Even seemingly mundane activities like being forced by your teacher or your client to write an essay with a nearing deadline while looking at a blank sheet of paper may produce acute stress.

What Happens during Episodes of Acute Stress?

What happens during acute stress is that as soon as the brain recognizes the event or the people around it as stressors it responds by activating certain systems in the body such as the sympathetic nervous system, which controls involuntary activities such as breathing and the beating of the heart. The body then releases certain hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline secreted primarily by the medulla portion of our adrenal glands.

These hormones increase our heart rate, rate and depth of breathing, dilates airways, narrow down our visual field, and decrease blood flow from the digestive tract, re-directing it to our skeletal muscles in preparation for the fight or flight response among all others. Over time, these responses may resolve when there is no longer a threat to the body.

Responses to Acute Stress

Acute stress responses cannot be avoided because events happening in the environment cannot be predicted. However, there are ways to ease the effects of acute stress. There are so many things a person can do when he or she suddenly feels so overwhelmed but we narrow it down into four steps:

1. Take a walk. Exercise is a great way of relieving stress. Taking a walk, for example, releases chemicals in the brain known as endorphins, which provides you with a positive mood. Plus you have the added benefit of walking away from the stressor and have an ample amount of time to think of solutions to the problem.

2. Take deep breaths. To do deep breathing just deeply but slowly breathe in air through your nose as if you’re filling up a lot of air into your lungs. Hold your breath for a good two to five seconds then exhale slowly but steadily through your pursed lips. Repeat the steps a couple of times until you feel relaxed.

3. Take mental relaxations. When it is possible to take short breaks, use those valuable minutes to take a rest and just flood your mind with positive thoughts and images.

4. Engage in a healthy lifestyle. A healthy mind and body can cope up more with stressful situations that may not be predicted. Always eat well-balanced, healthy meals, exercise regularly, and give yourself a good eight hours of sleep.

Stress: An Important Part of Life

When people think of stress, they often perceive it as something negative but it’s not just all that. People should also recognize that stress is an important part of life and therefore cannot be totally avoided. Stress is the reason why we are able to cope up with our studies, with work, responsibilities at home and all kinds of day to day activities. Always remember to follow and maintain healthy habits and you should be good to go.

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