Ways To Reduce Stress
Stress isnt always avoidable, but it is manageable. There are many ways that you can lessen or even eliminate stress when it creeps up.
- Try to listen to your body. Learning what triggers stress and how your body reacts to it can help you identify ways to combat your specific stress symptoms.
- Consider doing an activity you love. Bingeing your favorite show, writing in your journal, listening to music, or reading a book can soothe stress and make you feel happier and more calm.
- Try to exercise regularly. Exercise increases your endorphin levels, which can elevate your mood and boost energy.
- Consider a relaxing activity. Meditation, mindfulness, muscle relaxation, or other soothing activities can help ease symptoms of stress.
- Engage with others. While asking for help isnt always easy , connecting with others for support can help ease stress.
- Speaking with a professional. A healthcare or mental health professional can provide you with resources or suggest treatment for managing your stress.
What Is Stress And How Does It Affect Our Brains And Bodies
Stress is our reaction to a threatening event or stimulus. Such events and stimuli are called stressors. People perceive and react to stressors differently. Something one person would rate as highly stressful might be rated as considerably less stressful by someone else. These responses are affected by such factors as genetics and life experiences.
Stress can be classified as positive, tolerable or toxic. Toxic stress occurs when we are faced with a continuous stressor or triggered by multiple sources and can have a cumulative toll on our physical and mental health. It is an experience that overwhelms us and leaves us feeling powerless and hopeless.
Ways You May Not Have Realized Stress Affects Your Body
Whenever you start feeling not like your usual self, it can be maddening to figure out the root of the problem. Is it a viral infection? Is it a bug going around the community? Is it poor sleeping habits? Am I just getting old? These are some of the common issues that may ruminate in your mind.
Sometimes, none of those questions apply. Instead, stress is the culprit. Yes, the same stress you deal with when completing daily tasks can also affect your body in ways you never realized. Well highlight some common areas that stress can directly or indirectly impact, as well as how stress can affect your immune system.
Also Check: How To Get Rid Of Stress Anxiety
How To Reduce Stress Levels
Some of the stressors in our lives are things that we can take some practical control over some of them are not. When we cant take away the thing thats causing us stress, we need to find ways of responding to that stress without becoming unwell. Some good ways to reduce stress can include:
Sleep wellGetting enough sleep and sticking to regular hours can make a huge difference to how well we cope with everyday stress. Remember that stimulants like late-night screen time, alcohol, big meals and nicotine can stop us getting to sleep. Caffeine can still affect us around 6 hours after drinking it, so cut out the coffee early in the afternoon.
Stay in touchEven when you dont feel like it, trying to maintain your social life is important. It might even help to talk to friends and family about whats going on in your life, but if youre not comfortable with that, just socialising with them can help you feel more positive.
Eat wellOne of the best things we can do for our physical and mental health is to eat a healthy diet. This means lots of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, and lean proteins.
MeditateBreathing exercises and mindfulness techniques have become popular stress-management strategies over the last few years, and theyre supported by good clinical evidence.
Get outsideEven a little bit of time outdoors can energise us, help us maintain a good sleep pattern, and improve our mental and physical health. Exercise is particularly good for stress relief.
Choose Positive Ways To Cope
Some things like alcohol, marijuana, overeating, or smoking may feel like temporary fixes. But over time, they can be harmful to your health and cause problems that make stress worse. Developing new, healthier coping strategies can help break this cycle and provide deeper, longer-lasting relief.
Try to be aware of how you handle stress so you can make healthier choices, Dr. Howitt explains. Consider keeping a journal of your habits, so you can understand your patterns. Make a list of positive actions you can take like calling a friend, going for a walk, or putting on music and dancing.
Ideally, over time, these healthier alternatives will become your new go-to activities for stress relief.
Also Check: How Does Stress Affect The Heart
How Stress Can Affect Your Physical Health
Everyone will experience stress at some point in their life. It can often stem from a demanding career, a busy home life, or a personal issue. While small bursts of stress are fine, too much can negatively affect both the mind and body. Frequent stress cannot only lead to anxiety and depression, but it can cause various physical complaints. Keep reading to find out how stress can affect your physical health.
Where Might I Spot The Physical Signs Of Stress
The immune systemStress initially inhibits the immune system the chemicals our body releases to deal with immediate threat arent designed to keep us healthy long-term. People affected by chronic stress can find their immune system affected, making them susceptible to colds, flu and other infections.
The liverOur liver gives us a boost of glucose when were stressed, enabling us to physically respond to stressors. Long-term, this constant release increases our risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and can make it hard for us to maintain a healthy weight.
DigestionOur guts are surprisingly sensitive organs, and respond to hormone imbalances, stress, and many physical and mental health conditions with pain, bloating, and sometimes changes in bowel habit.
Nervous systemChronic stress affects dopamine levels, which is one of the reasons long-term stress makes us more vulnerable to mental illness. It can particularly make us seek short-term rewards like sugary, fatty or salty foods, affecting our weight and overall health.
HeadachesThe release of stress hormones can cause changes in the blood vessels around the brain, causing tension headaches and migraines.
Also Check: How To Calm Down Anxiety And Stress
Who Is Affected By Stress
All of us can probably recognise some of the feelings described above. Some people seem to be more affected by stress than others. For some people, getting out of the door on time each morning can be a very stressful experience, whereas others may be less affected with a great deal of pressure.
Some people are more likely to experience stressful situations than others. For example:
- people with a lot of debt or financial insecurity are more likely to be stressed about money
- people from minority ethnic groups or who are LGBTQIA+ are more likely to be stressed about prejudice or discrimination
- people with disabilities or long-term health conditions are more likely to be stressed about their health or about stigma associated with their condition.
Respiratory And Cardiovascular Systems
Stress hormones affect your respiratory and cardiovascular systems. During the stress response, you breathe faster in an effort to quickly distribute oxygen-rich blood to your body. If you already have a breathing problem like asthma or emphysema, stress can make it even harder to breathe.
Under stress, your heart also pumps faster. Stress hormones cause your blood vessels to constrict and divert more oxygen to your muscles so youll have more strength to take action. But this also raises your blood pressure.
Recommended Reading: What Are The Symptoms Of Stress And Anxiety
Ways To Manage Stress
The easiest way to manage stress is to immerse yourself in activities that reduce anxiety-provoking thoughts and feelings.
For starters, incorporate regular exercise into your weekly routine. This can be as simple as taking a stroll around your neighborhood. Disconnecting from the world and your smartphone can do wonders for your state of mind.
Focus on activities and hobbies you enjoy. Read a book at night if youre into novels. Listen to your favorite artist while you cook if youre a fan of music. Play with your dog if animals help soothe your mood. Everyone has their own way of resetting their emotions. Find what works best for you.
You can also add positive affirmations, or positive self-talk, to your routine. Take a piece of paper and write down personal statements you can think about or say aloud several times a day. As an example, you may say Today will be a good day. I will focus on the things I can control and wont stress about the things I cant control.
How Stress Can Affect Your Overall Health
Psychreg on Health Psychology
Stress is a normal part of life. The human body is designed to experience stress and react accordingly. However, it can have serious consequences if a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation. As a result, the individual may feel overworked and develop stress-related tension. This unrelenting strain on the body may contribute to additional health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or certain mental disorders.
According to BetterHelp, if you frequently feel frazzled and overwhelmed, there are strategies that can help you to bring your nervous system back into balance. Protect yourself by learning how to recognise the signs and symptoms of stress and take the necessary steps to manage it. Read on to learn how stress can affect your overall health.
You May Like: How To Relieve Stress Quickly
Q: How Does Stress Affect The Heart
In the movies, people under intense stress dramatically keel over from a heart attack, but thats extremely rare. The real danger is the accumulated impact of chronic stress, which contributes to each of the top five risk factors for developing heart disease: abnormal cholesterol levels, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and smoking.
More Prone To Illnesses
The body is so intent on reacting to stress it can leave your immune system prone to illness. In other words, it can get too depleted and struggle to defend against viral or bacterial infections. The cortisol produced during stress reactions can decrease your lymphocytes, important white blood cells your immune system uses to fend off foreign invaders.
Also Check: How To Relax And Stop Stressing
How Your Body Responds To Stress
When youre under stress, your brain releases a stress response. This sends signals via the pituitary gland to the adrenal glands, to release the hormones cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline.
These hormones raise your blood pressure and give your body a dose of glucose that goes straight to your muscles. The idea is to get you ready and give you a boost of energy to respond to an immediate stressor.
Stress hormones are energising. They give you the motivation and focus to complete difficult tasks, solve problems, and reach your immediate goals. Thats why stress is good for you in small doses.
After the stressful situation has passed, your body can return to a normal, relaxed state. But ongoing, long-term stress the kind that cant easily be solved with a short burst of energy and focus can cause serious physical signs of stress.
How Much Stress Is Too Much
Because of the widespread damage stress can cause, its important to know your own limit. But just how much stress is too much differs from person to person. Some people seem to be able to roll with lifes punches, while others tend to crumble in the face of small obstacles or frustrations. Some people even thrive on the excitement of a high-stress lifestyle.
Factors that influence your stress tolerance level include:
Your support network. A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against stress. When you have people you can count on, lifes pressures dont seem as overwhelming. On the flip side, the lonelier and more isolated you are, the greater your risk of succumbing to stress.
Your sense of control. If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, its easier to take stress in stride. On the other hand, if you believe that you have little control over your lifethat youre at the mercy of your environment and circumstancesstress is more likely to knock you off course.
Your attitude and outlook. The way you look at life and its inevitable challenges makes a huge difference in your ability to handle stress. If youre generally hopeful and optimistic, youll be less vulnerable. Stress-hardy people tend to embrace challenges, have a stronger sense of humor, believe in a higher purpose, and accept change as an inevitable part of life.
Don’t Miss: What Are Stress Reduction Techniques
Improving Your Ability To Handle Stress
Get moving. Upping your activity level is one tactic you can employ right now to help relieve stress and start to feel better. Regular exercise can lift your mood and serve as a distraction from worries, allowing you to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed stress. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, and dancing are particularly effective, especially if you exercise mindfully .
Connect to others. The simple act of talking face-to-face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve stress when youre feeling agitated or insecure. Even just a brief exchange of kind words or a friendly look from another human being can help calm and soothe your nervous system. So, spend time with people who improve your mood and dont let your responsibilities keep you from having a social life. If you dont have any close relationships, or your relationships are the source of your stress, make it a priority to build stronger and more satisfying connections.
How Stress Affects You Physically
We know what goes on in our minds when we feel stressed. For some, stressful situations are met with thoughts about the worst possible outcome. For others, stress boosts motivation, helping them focusing on important deadlines or getting housework done. It is normal to experience stress in response to situations.
But what about when stress becomes chronic? According to Courtney Weiler, Clinic Manager for Centerstone, When we experience chronic stress, we might find ourselves mentally and physically exhausted, unable to concentrate, feeling depressed, or having increased anxiety. We might not have the capacity to deal with what comes at us and feel like shutting it all out. Stress can also go beyond this mental turmoil and into physical problems.
Also Check: How Do I Know If I M Stressed
Effects Of Stress On The Body
Stress exists in many forms. Any situation you are not in control of is stressful. The effects of stress are commonly known. Yet you may not be aware of the way it impacts you physically.
Stress takes its toll in countless ways. It is commonly found to be at the root of many emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems. And can cause you to fall into depression, experience anxiety, and simply feel overwhelmed with everyday things.
While stress is unavoidable, too much of it can actually have an impact on your physical health as well. The physical effects of stress on your body can cause you to feel even worse and perpetuate the cycle of emotional stress. The physical consequences of stress are one of the more serious effects of stress.
Stress Effects On The Body
Stress affects all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems.
Stress effects on the body.
Our bodies are well equipped to handle stress in small doses, but when that stress becomes long-term or chronic, it can have serious effects on your body.
When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stressthe bodys way of guarding against injury and pain.
With sudden onset stress, the muscles tense up all at once, and then release their tension when the stress passes. causes the muscles in the body to be in a more or less constant state of guardedness. When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time, this may trigger other reactions of the body and even promote stress-related disorders.
For example, both tension-type headache and migraine headache are associated with chronic muscle tension in the area of the shoulders, neck and head. Musculoskeletal pain in the low back and upper extremities has also been linked to stress, especially job stress.
Relaxation techniques and other stress-relieving activities and therapies have been shown to effectively reduce muscle tension, decrease the incidence of certain stress-related disorders, such as headache, and increase a sense of well-being. For those who develop chronic pain conditions, stress-relieving activities have been shown to improve mood and daily function.
You May Like: How To Cope With Anxiety Stress And Depression
When To Get Help For Stress
Stress is a normal part of dealing with what everyday life throws at you. But stress can complicate things when it becomes chronic. As outlined above, repeated stress can lead to many future health problems.
If you feel like youre losing control or have issues getting through the day and typical tasks, contact your primary care physician to discuss ways to reduce your stress. Your doctor may refer you to a mental health provider to provide further assistance. The INTEGRIS Health Mental Health Clinic can help you navigate your troubles with treatment options, free anonymous online screenings and other resources.