How Do You Work Under Pressure?
On February 24, Russia invaded our country, Ukraine. We’re writing this article as attacks continue, with thousands of Ukrainians being displaced, injured, or killed. Kitrum, our partner company, posted a detailed article describing the war between Ukraine and Russia. Today, we’ll focus on something important to Ukrainians and anyone who needs such content. Keeping up the work during the war is hard, but also doable. We hope that we can support and encourage you by sharing this article. More importantly, we also hope that you’re as safe as you can be in these dark times.
Note: Since everyone responds to stress in their own way, take what can be applied to you. If you’d like to share something that might help others, please reach us at [email protected]. Let’s be there for each other!
How Stress Affects Your Body
How Stress Affects Your Body
A stressful situation activates a mechanism called “fight or flight”. It’s a response to perceived harm, attack, or threat, which causes you to either hit back or run away. This way, your body enters survival mode and maintains its functions according to the circumstances. Basically, when your heart races, breathing speeds up, and your muscles tense, that’s “fight or flight” in action, prompting you to react fast.
This response affects your body in more ways than one – some can be long-lasting, depending on the cause and duration of stress. A short stress sprint may not hurt much, but it’s different when stress levels remain high for longer than needed for basic survival. Next, we’ll show how stress works and what you can do to handle it better.
Once triggered, the endocrine system produces stress hormones – adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol. In normal circumstances, this reinforces the production of energy. But under excessive stress, the way your immune system communicates with the HPA axis gets disruptive. This disruption may lead to chronic fatigue as well as immune and mental health issues.
Your Heart And Blood
Momentary stress makes your heart pump blood faster as a result of increased heart rate, which is caused by hormone release. Your blood vessels expand and transport more blood to your muscles, raising blood pressure. Once the possible threat is gone, your body bounces back to its normal state. However, prolonged stress can lead to:
- High blood pressure;
- Heart attack risk;
- High cholesterol.
Your Gut Health
Your gut has millions of neurons that are in contact with the brain. First off, stress affects gut bacteria and your mood as a result – which explains the discomfort in your stomach when you’re nervous. Other effects of stress on the gut include bloating, nausea, pain, and digestion issues. Not to mention the fact that when stressed, people either eat way more or deny any food whatsoever.
Your Nervous System
Your nervous system is split in two: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The SNS helps your body react to sudden situations and short-term stress. The PNS helps you recover. Excessive stress makes your nervous system react disproportionately, leading to anxiety, sleep problems, panic attacks, and other issues.
Steps To Take
Steps To Take
As a rule, the longer your body is exposed to stress, the more accustomed it gets. It’s a wear-and-tear case, which goes beyond your mental state and expands to other organs and systems. Doesn’t mean nothing can be done to make the impact minimal. You can:
Tend To The Body
Two most important things: cover your basic needs and start small with everything else.
Obviously, the pre-war sleeping schedule won’t work anymore, so rest whenever possible. Your body is doing a more complex job than you can imagine by keeping you active and able to think clearly.
Since the available foods are most likely limited by the wartime conditions, a balanced menu with foods you can easily swap out helps navigate the difficulties. To avoid stressing the nervous system, watch your consumption of caffeine and alcohol (nicotine as well, now that we’re talking about the well-known triggers). If possible, support your body with vitamins and supplements to deter deficiencies.
This hugely depends on your location and access to the outdoors. If you can spend some time in the open air and exercise – give it a try. This can help redirect your thoughts away from anxiety and boost the production of stress-relieving hormones. Also focus on breathing: Headspace has some useful techniques for dealing with stress, relaxing, and increasing energy.
While some stress reactions are predictable, responding to the war is different for everyone. Any emotion in response to war is normal, for the lack of a more fitting word. Still, there are a few things that make going through it at least a bit easier:
- Practice mental hygiene: filter out your resources and spend less time reading the news; try to stick to routine practices to regain the feeling of control; focus on what you can do, but also plan for the better times to help switch your mind to recovery instead of self-destruction.
- Don’t blame yourself. This is not a race. Every effort you put into stabilizing yourself, helping others, or doing normal things like work, cleaning up, or going out for coffee counts.
- Don’t accumulate emotions. Acknowledging your own reactions takes away part of the tension. Share how you feel with others, and express it through writing, art, your work, or even jokes, a valid coping mechanism that builds resilience.
- If possible, seek professional help. Managing it on your own isn’t always the safest. Professionals can help you deal with acute conditions while you work on raising your spirits.
And finally – do things that feel right to do. Everyone has their individual ways of coping.
Once you’ve gained some stability, you can help others. Works the same as the rule about “putting your own oxygen mask on first.” In case of shared trauma – like a war – everyone needs support. Here is what you can do:
- Keep in touch with your close ones. At a distance or not, it’s a good idea to set your arguments aside and focus on having each other’s back.
- Help strangers too – regardless of why they’re stressed, support and kindness are something we have in common. Whether it’s words of encouragement, a shared meal, or help with accomplishing a task, these moments of peace matter at the end of the day, and they may sprout into bigger acts of kindness.
- Volunteer for something bigger. Whatever it is you choose to do – donating, spreading awareness, helping physically or otherwise – if you’re there, you’re helping.
Like many others, we prioritize involvement in what we do. Even when everything flies off the deep end, this doesn’t mean you can’t get back on track. If you take one step at a time and stay focused on your goals despite the uncertainty, fear, and distress, you’ll get there.
Having bounced back into our work schedule, we at Whales Ventures decided to make our own contribution to those suffering from the war in Ukraine. Soon, we’ll share an update on Whales Foundation – a platform that lets you donate to a cause of your choice and watch your donation develop into actual help. Our partner company Kitrum, in their turn, is going an extra mile to help volunteers, Ukrainian Armed Forces, and civilians.
A few things have become crystal clear: we can accept uncertainty and the suffering it brings, withstand that, and manage to keep our hearts open and stand strong afterward.
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