Reframing Stress: 7 Psychological Tricks to Change How Stress Affects Your Health

Reframing Stress | 7 Psychological Tricks to Change How Stress Affects Your Health
Photo by Despina Design

 

 

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing:

the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

 

Your mother warned you there’d be days like these. The minutes are ticking away until your big meeting starts, and here you are, stuck in traffic – again. Cars are moving at a snail’s pace, but the thoughts keep racing through your mind. “Hmm, did I lock the front door..? Ooh, I shouldn’t forget to pick up the dry-cleaning on my way home tonight. And we really must find the time to visit aunt Jessie in the hospital this weekend. Maybe after we’ve finished painting the nursery..? Argh, move already, I’m running late!”

You can feel the tension build up in your body. And the day has only just begun.

 

Life is a continuous string of events, from everyday challenges and important milestones to defining moments and daily disruptions. Although there are certain situations that everyone finds upsetting and taxing – losing a loved one, relationship troubles, unemployment or living with chronic illness – whether or not you get stressed following a negative event also depends on how you perceive that situation.

Stress is triggered by external life events and small daily hassles. When you experience more frequent and severe stressors in life, you have an increased risk of developing serious health problems like heart disease, obesity, digestive problems or anxiety. But this relation doesn’t explain why plenty of people thrive in high-pressure jobs or demanding circumstances. Why do some individuals get sick and depressed when something stressful happens while others do not?

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A Love Letter to the Supporters of Chronically Ill Warriors Everywhere

 

Love Letter  

It’s a sad fact that in times of need you find out who your true friends are. Not everyone has the courage, strength and emotional intelligence to deal with difficult situations. Others want to help out, but they simply don’t know what to say or do.

The irony is that you don’t need grand gestures or eloquent speeches to show your love and compassion – they’re found in the tiny, wordless gestures of support and understanding.

When you’re diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness, the dynamics of your relationships inevitably change. Sometimes the person you want to turn to the most, suddenly stops calling you or slowly vanishes from your life when you’re no longer able to do fun things together. But other people might surprise you: the colleague who keeps checking in how you’re doing, the neighbour who offers to do your grocery shopping or drive you to the hospital.

Many articles have been written about the misconceptions and insensitive comments that sick people have to deal with. Although it’s important to address the constant frustrations and loneliness of chronically ill patients, today I want to celebrate all the lovely individuals who do get it – who understand what you’re going through, who stick around through it all, who never let you down. This is a gratitude note to the support squads of “spoonies” everywhere – and my friends and family in particular. 

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Fifty Shades of Blue: 6 Self-Help Tips to Overcome Feelings of Depression

 

Blue Self Help Tips Depression
Portrait by Annelies Verhelst.** 

 

We all have days when we’re feeling sad and empty, wishing we could curl up in our beds instead of going through the motions again. It’s completely normal to go through periods of unhappiness, especially after upsetting events. But what if you keep finding yourself bursting into tears for no apparent reason or feeling numb more often than not? What should you do when you no longer enjoy things you used to consider fun and you’re struggling to ‘fake’ a normal conversation?

 

‘Fifty shades of blue’: Mild depressive symptoms

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems, with approximately 8 – 17% of people worldwide suffering from a major depressive disorder during their lifetime. But an even larger number of us are dealing with mild depressive symptoms that are not severe enough to meet the diagnostic criteria for a clinical depression. For example, maybe you’re often feeling down, restless and tired, without much interest in doing something fun, but never for two weeks straight or never more than four symptoms to be able to call it a depressive disorder.

And yet, struggling with the blues can still cause a lot of grief and make it difficult to function normally at work or during social occasions. What’s more, experiencing mild depressive symptoms is an important risk factor for developing a full-blown depression. 

Unfortunately, when you’re living with chronic health problems, you’re even more likely to experience symptoms of depression. Having a serious disease doesn’t just throw your whole life upside down and makes it harder to pursue activities that used to make you happy, but the physical effect of chronic illness can also lead to neurochemical imbalances associated with a depressed mood.

Luckily, there are things you can do to lift your spirit and slowly start feeling better. Research shows that following self-help strategies can be an effective way to reduce mild depressive symptoms. So here’s a small selection of proven methods to help you beat the blues:

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The One Month Tune-Up Update: How Does Singing Every Day Affect Our Health and Happiness?

 

Source: Pinterest
Source: Pinterest

I believe in singing.” – Brian Eno

It’s been sixteen days since Kaila from In My Skinny Genes and I have started The One Month Tune- Up, to see for ourselves whether singing every day during October can boost our health and happiness, as scientific research suggests. So how’s my singing challenge going so far?

Measurable Results?

To track whether singing regularly can really have a positive impact on our heart rate and stress levels, I’ve been using the free GPS for the Soul app to measure heart rate variability. Heart rate variability refers to the beat-to-beat changes in your heart rate, a good indicator of bodily stress. When you’re healthy, the time gap between your heart beats varies periodically when you’re resting. That’s why a high heart rate variability is considered as a sign of good health, while a decreased heart rate variability is linked to stress, fatigue, and increasing wear and tear.

Now, using an app is not a completely accurate way to measure heart rate variability, I know. ‘Luckily’ I’ve had plenty of medical tests in my life to notice enough similarities between the numbers on my iPad and more reliable measurements in the past.

The good news: My heart rate variability has been ‘in sync’ for the last sixteen days of the One Month Tune-Up. My average heart rate in resting conditions lies between 70 and 80, which is a little higher than the ‘normal’ pulse of 60 to 70 beats per minute reported by the Dutch Heart Foundation. The ‘bad’ news: So far, singing at least one song a day has had no significant effects on my heart rate and (low) stress levels.

Uhm, so does that mean that our little experiment doesn’t have any effects on our health and happiness? Not quite.

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