There are some days you can hang out around the house relaxing and spending quality time with the family and not have a care in the world. Other days, your mind seems to be racing and nearly everything that’s occurred over the course of the day has only made you feel stressed.
That’s because the body has two major states: A stress state and a relaxation state. Depending on which state you’re currently in, your physical, mental and emotional states will all be vastly different. So, let’s go over what you might experience in each of these states.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, when you’re in the stress state, you’re in a state of constant alert. Your nervous system constantly has the “fight-or-flight” mode activated and your body and mind are both on edge just waiting for the next “dangerous” event to occur.
With extra adrenaline pumping through your body, you might notice that your heart is racing and that your blood pressure has skyrocketed. You might even begin to feel some tension building up throughout your body, whether that’s in your muscles, joints, or in the form of a headache.
You could even make yourself physically sick in the form of nausea, stomach cramping, or even more susceptible to common illnesses like the cold or flu. And forget about sleeping, because the stress and anxiety are even more relentless at night.
Mentally, you might not be able to focus as well as you normally would. Your thoughts are racing and it seems like your mind is bouncing around to 20 different ideas in a span of only a few minutes, and there’s nothing that you can do to calm it.
You might snap at people when they approach you and have a lower tolerance for what you’re able to “put up with” during the day. It seems as if the smallest things will set you off, even though you’re usually pretty calm.
According to the Mayo Clinic, being in the relaxation state involves having relatively low physical and mental tension flooding through your body. If you had to describe how you were feeling, you could probably describe it as “calm.”
Unlike the stress state, your blood pressure and heart rate are both within healthy ranges and, in fact, might be lower than they normally are. That’s because you have far less cortisol (the stress hormone) pumping through your body, which helps to physically put your body at ease.
When you’re relaxed, you might notice that any physical pain or muscle tension that has built up over the last several weeks is either less severe or completely gone. Your body seems to be functioning normally and you just feel better than ever.
You can finally get to sleep at night and your stomach and head no longer ache at the thought of going to work, school, or any major event. You’re much easier to associate with and people aren’t afraid to bring you bad news in fear of how you’d react.
You can tackle those big projects at work without fretting over every single task involved because you don’t feel as overwhelmed. Plus, you’re more likely to see the positives in even the worst situations that are going on around you.
It’s natural for your body to fluctuate between the stress and relaxation state depending on what’s going on in your life physically, mentally, and emotionally. Though you can’t entirely prevent the stress state from coming on, you can put in the effort to identify your stressors and develop healthy coping strategies.