Stress! It is a normal part of life. Whether money is tight, you have work assignments piling up, you are fighting with your spouse or you just don’t feel healthy. We all deal with it at some point. Stress can manifest itself in many different forms. It can be positive, keeping us alert to situations or motivated to accomplish something. It can also be negative. If you experience stress over a long period of time, it isknown as “chronic stress” and can lead to a condition called “distress.” If a person does not learn to manage the symptoms, the stress can become harmful. Distress can cause many physical symptoms such as headache, difficulty sleeping, upset stomach or high blood pressure. It can also cause a person to turn to other methods of relieving the stress such as smoking, alcohol, drugs or overeating.
Learning how to reduce your stress can not only help you in the moment but protect your health in the future. There are many ways to reduce or combat stress.
First and foremost, identify what is causing the stress -Write it down as well as your feelings about it. This may help you develop a plan to begin to address it.
Set reasonable expectations for yourself -Think about what your priorities are and what you can actually ask others to help you with. Sometimes, just easing your burden slightly can reduce your stress dramatically. Phone a friend. Support is extremely important. Take a break to call a friend or partner. While relationships can be a source of stress, they can also serve as a stress reducer. That support person may just provide the little pick me up that you need.
Walk away when you are angry -Take five or ten minutes to regroup. Take a deep breath and reassess the situation. You may have a whole new way of looking at things.
Exercise -Exercise increases the production of endorphins in your brain. This is your body’s natural mood booster. This can consist of something simple like gardening, walking your dog, taking a bike ride or even an exercise class. Exercise can help you clear you mind and channel your energy into something positive.
Sleep -Getting enough sleep is extremely important. When a person feels well rested and energized, they are better able to handle something stressful that comes along. It is often difficult to turn your mind off, so remove your distractions. Turn off your phone, computers, tablets and televisions. Cut back your caffeine intake during the day. Take a hot bath or drink an herbal tea before bedtime to relax your body and mind.
Finally, if you continue to feel overwhelmed, consult with a mental health professional such as a therapist or psychologist. It is important to know that you are not alone and they can teach you how to work through and manage stress effectively. Stress is something that is unavoidable but learning how to cope and react differently can make all the difference in the world.