Stress plagues all of us. We can have physical, mental, and emotional stress. In either of these cases, a little stress will help our body grow, but too much will tear us down. Too much stress causes an increase in the release of cortisol which can lead to problems in your body.
When you stress the brain activates more of the amygdala, which controls your emotion, and diverts more activity away from the hippocampus. The hippocampus controls your cognitive function. Therefore, when you are stressed you literally can’t function properly. This is why our hands get jittery and why we fumble with objects while we are stressed.
Two Ways to Help Stress
According to a 2013 research survey from the Institute of Applied Positive Research:
“Positive vacations have a significant effect upon energy and stress. In our study, 94% had as much or more energy after coming back after a good trip. In fact, on low-stress trips, 55% returned to work with even higher levels of energy than before the trip.”
Be very careful though, because stressful vacations can actually have a negative effect on an individual upon return to work. Individuals who had increased stress while on vacation came back to work worse than when they left. Make sure you plan a relaxing trip, and not one filled with overstimulation.
The research showing stress reduction due to play is also very positive. Play is the absence of work and commitments. This could be a leisurely game of Frisbee with your kids or friends, throwing the football at a barbecue, or grabbing a board game with the family. The idea is to have fun and not worry. Here are some benefits of play:
- Relieves stress
- Releases endorphins (positive hormones that make you feel happy)
- Strengthens your relationships with the others who are playing
- Improves brain function
- Recharges your batteries
Putting it in Practice
My family and I love to go camping. This is usually a weekend out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by God’s creation where we find peace and quiet. It is also a place where we spend every second together as a family. We eat all of our meals together, read quietly together, and thoroughly enjoy playing games together. It is always a great way to decrease stress, recharge our batteries, and strengthen our bond as a family.
The moral of this story is to take time to relax. Work is very important, and yes you need to provide for your family, but overworking yourself will eventually cause you to be less productive. It will also cause your stress and anxiety levels to increase. Working longer and harder hours doesn’t equal more productive work completed. It could actually cause you to go the opposite direction you intended to go.
Dr Spencer Charlet