Stress is an integral part of life.
No matter our age or our schedule, we all live with it.
Although our opinion on the subject is rather negative, stress has its good sides: it forces us to surpass ourselves, both physically and mentally.
For example, physical training is a form of stress, demanding work to strengthen the body;
and deadlines motivate us to get things done.
Stress can increase performance, but when it is too intense it can interfere with it.
Sometimes the stress caused by certain factors, such as deadlines at work or school, is fleeting and dissipates once the stressor is removed.
However, continuous or chronic stress can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and even early death.
Fight and flight
Stress puts the body on high alert: it raises adrenaline, increases the heart rate and makes breathing faster.
In the past, all of this was very useful when the best response to a threat was fight or flight.
These days, it's impossible to run away from the stress of work or get into a fight with your boss or coworkers.
Thus, we wait for stress to pass without evacuating it, which is harmful to health.
However, there are ways to reduce stress and prevent its side effects.
Tips for managing your stress
Get a good night's sleep
Restless sleep rarely portends a great day.
Conversely, a good night's sleep can contribute to a feeling of invincibility.
While fatigue generally increases adrenaline levels, making you more vulnerable to stress, rest improves productivity.
Getting enough sleep is essential for performance and aids stress management.
Get some exercise
Physical activity is very beneficial for mental health.
When under stress, exercise helps channel released adrenaline through the body - I often perform better in training when I am stressed.
In addition, physical activity releases serotonin and endorphin, which contributes to a feeling of well-being.
Doing cardio is great, but even a less strenuous activity, like walking, can help.
Meditation has become more and more popular in recent years.
People use it not only to reduce stress, but also to promote concentration and even to increase performance.
Meditation trains you to free your mind from thoughts of the past and worries about the future, to focus on the present moment as well as on your breathing.
It can clarify your thoughts and reduce your stress.
Stress is often accompanied by a feeling of lack of control, of helplessness.
Finding a way to exert some control over the situation can help, but it isn't always possible: you may not be in control of deadlines at your job, or your youngster's first time driving your car.
In these cases, find other areas of your life that you can control.
In doing so, you will have confidence in your ability to handle the challenges that arise and maintain a positive attitude.
Smile and laugh
Laughing is always good: the body releases endorphin, just like during physical activity.
Laughter also reduces anxiety.
The simple act of smiling is beneficial.
Even when forced, this gesture can provoke positive emotions in a stressful situation.
When things go wrong, it's reassuring to know it's okay.
We can find this comfort by talking to people about different aspects of life.
Spending time with certain people (even if it is virtually) can help make you happy, and a familiar voice can stimulate the release of oxytocin, the love hormone.
Keep a journal
This "worry diary" - as my daughter calls it - is a box of the thoughts that disturb you.
Most people write their concerns down there before going to bed to clear their minds.
By the same token, your worries will appear less serious.
Better to externalize your thoughts than to ruminate on them.
You can also, looking back on your day, write down in your journal things you enjoyed doing or things for which you are grateful.
It can help you focus on the positive aspects of your life.
Even bad days count their little pleasures.
All of these tips have one thing in common: they will allow you to step back and redirect your thoughts.
Using all or part of them in your daily life can prevent stress build-up and help you face challenges with more confidence.