Stress and stressors. And what can we do.

Margo Groeneveld
21 Jun 2020

With so much uncertainty and causes of stress, let’s do some science around dealing with stress, from the book ‘Burnout, the secret to unlocking the stress cycle’ by Emily Nagoski.

Stress and stressors

The book starts off with distuingishing between stress and stressors. Stressors according to Emily activate the stress response, they are things that are percieved by the body as a potential threat. The stress is a neurological and physiological shift that happens in response to a stressor. Heart beat goes up, muscles tense, digestion slows down and attention is focussed on the short term.

Back in the days, what humans used to do when this response was triggered, they ran (and probably screamed). Hopefully towards safety… That was in the days when lions were the actual threat. It’s an ancient old response, that helped us survive.

But these days, there are no lions. While we still have the stress response. These days threats come from confrontations at work, insecurities about our jobs, deadline stress or fights with a partner (and virusses). Triggering similar responses, but we don’t run. Because it’s socially inappropriate to run around when feeling stressed.

We often deal with the stressors, but not with the stress. So our bodies get stuck in the stress responses (which is not good).

What do we do?

In stead, we (should) practice selfcare. And that can look like taking time off, treating yourself well. Which is an important part of it. It can also be working out, swimming, dancing, breathwork, arts or meditation. Whatever it is, as long as it is something you actually do.

Because what it really does, is it allows to finish stress cycles and restore a sense of safety and calm in the body and the nervous system. Laughter, affection, being with friends (some of my favorites). All work too! So, next time if you are struggling finding time for selfcare or feel selfish about it, know it is actually a very natural thing to do.

And by the way, for maximum effect it has to be done twenty to sixty minutes a day… for most of the days. So science sais.