Flight or fight is a term that was initially used by Walter Cannon to give an explanation of how human beings physiologically respond to external stressors (Laureate 2012). The sympathetic nervous system of human beings is aroused when it is exposed to a stressor while the body gets ready to either deal with the stressor or to shift locations (Laureate, 2012).
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The response of human cadiovascular system in such situations is that the heart beats faster in order to increase oxygen supply to the limbs and the brain for quicker thinking and action (Laureate Education, 2012). This response boosts the immune system while physiological changes prepare the body to deal with resistance and heal wounds (Dhabhar, 2011).
Some of the situations that are believed to cause high stress levels include financial constraints, relationship problems, health complications and situations that are caused by man-made or natural catastrophes. Health psychologists apply techniques of reducing stress to make an analysis of levels of pain, blood pressure, mood, sleep quality and the rate of breathing. These factors determine autonomic stress equilibrium.
Cognitive restructuring and relaxation breathing are two mechanisms that I use to lower stress levels. Cognitive restructuring helps me to find ways through which I can change my relationship with the stressor in situations where the stressor itself cannot be changed. My strategy involves doing exercises for about 45 minutes before I go to work.
According to Carver (2010), the ability of an individual to use reframing to cope with stress is closely related to personality trait of optimism. Relaxation strategy is another mechanism that I apply on a daily basis. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and is occasionally referred to as rest and digest response (Laureate Inc., 2012b).
Personally, I exercise at the gym, walk with friends for short distances, play on slides with other people and go hiking. These experiences enable me to relax and breathe as I take time to forget stressful things that take place in my life. I close my eyes and see myself in places that allow me to relax such as Bermuda and Jamaica.
Coping mechanisms that focus on the problem and others which are biology focused have been helpful to me since they have changed my thinking. Apart from using the mechanisms for my own benefit, I have also been able to advise other clients to apply them. I have realized that spirituality, coupled with coping mechanisms have brought significant changes in my life. Sometimes I experience stress but I have learnt to accept things that I cannot change.
Emotion-focused coping is an appropriate mechanism to use in order to reduce stress. According to Folkman and Lazarus (1984), the mechanism is a cognitive process whose main focus is to reduce the emotional distress associated with certain events. Stress reduction is done through avoidance, escape, self control and distancing oneself from the stressful event.
For example, when we are in relationships with people who always make us experience stress, we can distance ourselves from them or stop talking to them for some time. When we do not want to accept responsibility for things we have done, we try to avoid the outcomes if they would cause us stress.
Individuals who have spiritual backgrounds can effectively utilize meaning-focused, positive and spiritual coping strategies. These are appropriate for outreach programs which are organized in churches. When individuals concentrate on positive things, it amounts to good and satisfactory results.