Stress is most often associated with a feeling of being overwhelmed by current surroundings or something going on in your life. It is inevitable to avoid feeling stress, but today more and more people are experiencing the complications that come with constant or extreme stress.
Stress is actually a completely normal human reaction. It is part of our fight or flight response and is triggered to alert our bodies to a threat. In many instances, this is very beneficial – it can help us to react in a dangerous situation or cope with an injury. However, when it becomes ongoing and becomes too much to control, it can wreak havoc on our health and wellbeing.
How stress can affect your health and wellbeing
When our bodies experience stress, a variety of things happen at once. Our heart rate quickens, our muscles contract, and our blood pressure goes up – essentially our bodies are on alert and ready to react. In theory, these reactions should dissipate quickly, but many people have a hard time recovering from stressful events or find themselves confronted with an abundance of simultaneous stressful activities. This puts our bodies under constant pressure.
The side effects from excessive stress can vary greatly from person to person. It can lead to a variety of seemingly unconnected health problems, and many people fail to realize that stress is the root cause of their problems. Some of the most common symptoms of stress include fatigue, muscle tension, headaches, an upset stomach, and sleep disturbances. While these symptoms are some of the most common, a variety of other health problems can arise. Some people may find they get sick more often, are less productive at work, or have feelings of depression.
Simple ways to reduce stress
Luckily, there are some simple ways to to take care of your body and manage stress naturally. These practices can be easily incorporated into your daily routine.
Exercise is a natural mood regulator and one of the best ways to unwind your body and mind after a long day or an upsetting event. Exercising releases endorphins, a natural mood regulator, which can bring about feelings of euphoria. Additionally, exercise can help reduce muscle tension and help to promote healthy sleep habits.
Being outdoors is a pleasant and relaxing experience which has a soothing effect. In nature, you’ll be removed from the regular stressors in your life, giving you a chance to take a breath of fresh air, relax, and take a break from all of the things causing you to worry.
What you eat can do wonders for your health and wellbeing. In periods of stress, people often turn to comfort foods, which are often unhealthy. While these foods may seem comforting, they will actually further drain your energy and withhold the nourishment your body needs to cope well with stress. Instead, focus on healthy fresh food and whole grains. Some foods can even help to reduce stress naturally, including blueberries, chamomile tea, and even chocolate.
Get a good night’s sleep
Sleeping is our bodies way of resting and recharging for the next day. Not getting enough rest puts more stress on our minds and bodies. Unfortunately, many people who experience chronic stress, have a hard time sleeping because of it, launching into a vicious cycle of feeling extra stress because of a lack of sleep, but being unable to sleep because of excessive worrying.
There are some steps you can take to establish a healthy sleeping routine, including exercising regularly, eating well-timed and healthy dinners, and establishing an evening routine that promotes relaxation.
Meditation and breathing techniques
Meditation is a way to relax the mind and detach from the outside world. Because of this, the practice of meditation can be a powerful tool for stress release.
Meditation is difficult for a lot of people and takes practice. This Meditation for Beginners guide is a great introduction to the practice of meditation. Practicing mindful breathing to relax, or taking a yoga class are also good ways to get started.
Just as the side effects of excessive stress can vary from person to person, so to does one’s ability to cope. One person might experience chronic anxiety because they are overly sensitive to stressful events. Someone else might handle pressure well, but find themselves constantly in stressful situations, creating an atmosphere of ongoing stress. Whether you need to work on your coping abilities, or simply need to detach from an overwhelming job or life situation, these simple tools can help.
In today’s often high-pressure world, people accept stress as a part of life, but it doesn’t have to be! Establishing a routine to manage stress will safeguard your health now and in the future.