Do the palms of your hands get sweaty when you have to confront a problem at work? Does your heart beat fast before you give a speech? Do you get a headache after you’ve had an argument with a family member?
The feelings of stress and anxiety come from your body’s response to what it sees as a threat to survival, triggering the emotion of anger or fear. You may still be stressed without having any of these noticeable signs. However, your body knows, and it may provide other hints that stress is present, such as back pain or feeling tired and fatigued.
For people with diabetes, stress can cause glucose levels to rise. This is because glucose is an important source of energy, and the body produces it during situations that require a person to take action, whether it’s to fight an infection or run from an attacking lion.
Emotions are very important. Some are old survival instincts from deep within the brain. These include fear and anger. Some are chemical responses such as happiness and disgust. All are important responses designed to help us survive within and adapt to our environment. That said, a completely separate part of the brain helps us to interpret what our emotions are trying to tell us. Scientists believe that the more connections that exists linking these two parts of the brain, the better one is at dealing with life situations.
On the other hand, too much emotion can make it difficult to think. Some people become completely immobilized during intense periods of emotional response. Others refuse to accept the reality of the problems they face, instead opting to go into denial. Denial may help to protect against becoming overwhelmed by a difficult situation. However, if left unchecked, denial can interfere with a healthy lifestyle.
Some people take longer than others to calm down following an intense emotional response to a given set of circumstances. However, the ability to calm oneself down in the face of adversity is probably the best way to deal with strong emotions.
Here are a few suggestions to help calm down during intense situations:
- Quiet Time – Schedule quiet time alone each and every day: Examples include a warm bath, listening to music, meditation, yoga, exercise and relaxing hobbies).
- Deep breathing exercises – Think about breathing and nothing else for five to ten minutes.
- Laughter – Watch a funny movie or TV show. Laughter relaxes you and can even help strengthen the immune system.
- Talking – Try talking about what’s bothering you. If talking is too difficult, try writing it down.
- Spirituality – For those who participate in a form of worship, this can be a great technique to help calm oneself down during tense situations.
- Pets – Spending quality time with pets can be very therapeutic, and can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
If you suffer from uncontrollable anxiety or if you have frequent panic attacks, see your healthcare provider. There are medications that can help, and your doctor or nurse practitioner may recommend counseling, which can also be effective.
Take full advantage of your healthcare provider(s), your family and your friends. In the process of helping yourself, you may learn that the key to reducing anxiety is to take the focus off of yourself and to give of yourself to others.
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