You might be familiar with your pain threshold, but have you heard your stress threshold?
Your stress threshold or window of tolerance is the degree of stress you can handle. There are two types of stress our body receives—the ones you benefit from (eustress) and the ones you do not (distress)—and these stressors can affect your life in different ways. Your body deals with stress accordingly depending on how much your threshold can handle.
Thresholds are shaped by your history and genetic makeup so it greatly varies from person to person. It is based on individual strengths, challenges and can be influenced by situations. “Our window of tolerance is shaped by our life experiences,” says Stacey Thompson, LICSW. Hence, each person has a different response to stressors.
Unfortunately, life cannot be without stress. Part of human experience is stress. Your goal in life should not be to avoid and minimize stressors but to learn how to cope and live harmoniously with the stress you can handle.
As Stanford University neurobiologist Robert M. Sapolsky says, “The idea is to have the right amount of stress.”
How to Stay Within Your Stress Threshold
The goal is to remain within our stress threshold or to return to it as quickly as possible. That way, you can avoid the crippling effects of stress in your life.
Here are some ways to do it:
Working with a therapist
Talking with a therapist is a great way to release pent up emotions. A therapist can help you unravel your past trauma that may be contributing to your stress. There are several ways on how a therapist may help you, and some ways to do these are through psychotherapy and stress counseling.
A therapist practicing trauma-informed approach can help you with traumatic experiences and manage your relationship with it. You can overcome negative thoughts and feelings through this approach.
As for stress and anger management counseling, you will be talking with a professional psychotherapist about the issues you may be facing as an employee. Often, you can manage stress on your own. But other times, you need a professional and judgement-free space to talk about your feelings and identify the causes of prolonged stress.
Engaging in calming activities
There are several calming activities you can undertake to induce a sense of calm and help you manage your stress. Unfortunately, what works for others might not work for you. Try a variety of activities to see which gives you peace and calms your mind and body. You can ask your family and friends for suggestions on approaches that worked for them.
Mindfulness techniques can help you return to the present when your emotions start to feel out of control. Mindfulness often involves deep breathing, but there are other ways to ground yourself. Mindfulness techniques are most effective when practiced daily.
Giving to someone else
Doing something nice for others can make you happy and calm. This is because giving to others encourages positive emotions. Why not send flowers to someone you love? They will surely appreciate the gesture.
Having attainable goals set for the week is a great way to track your progress. Setting goals is also a way to help you look forward to something, which is great especially when you are prone to get bored with your daily routine. Goal setting also trains you to be patient for it encourages delayed gratification.
Building social support
Having a support system allows you to vent and have fun in the presence of others. Good social networks can reduce the likelihood of feeling sad and lonely based on studies. Friends and family play a huge role in our mental well-being. It can also help us manage mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression.
Friends can help you face hard truths and call you out once they notice something in your behavior. Meanwhile, your family is there to show support and love. When you are with your social circle, you are exposed to different personalities which can help you navigate a larger social setting once you are used to it.
Noticing the good things
Make it a habit to take in one good thing you experience each day. Then, write it down or tell someone about it. The event can be something as small as getting out of bed earlier than the day before. These micro-achievements are bouts of positivity that you need especially in these times.
Getting enough sleep
Not having enough sleep causes stress hormones to soar and spark imbalances. Always get enough sleep, so your body has time to recuperate.
Exercise is a stressor, but a good one! Forty minutes of intense walk to an hour and a half of moderate-intensity workout is what you need to reduce stress levels and encourage the growth of new brain cells.
Stresses demand your attention and drain your energy. You cannot completely run away or eliminate the stressors in your life, so learn how to manage it or aim to boost your ability to cope with stress. Each person has an optimum level of stress they can enjoy, but passing that level leads to detrimental effects in body and life from physical pains to poor decision making.
Listed above are ways to manage your stress levels and bring it in par with your threshold. The earlier you learn how to manage your stress and improve your stress tolerance, the easier it is to live an invigorating life.
Author Bio: Marianick Villegas is a Content Marketer at The Flower Shops. In her free time, she writes articles and plays with her two dogs, Nala and Elwood. She also calls herself a ‘shy marketer.’