Tips To Reduce Stress At Home
As many Americans will attest, “home, sweet home” isn’t always a stress-free zone. With April being Stress Awareness Month, Health Net is offering tips designed to reduce stress at home. Homegrown stress can be traced to numerous sources a noisy environment, an unhappy spouse, financial worries, or even mundane domestic duties such as doing the laundry or mowing the lawn.
Stress is not a subject to be taken lightly. As Patricia Buss, M.D., medical and health care services operations officer for Health Net, Inc., explains, “Stress has been linked to a broad range of psychological and physical disorders.”
Symptoms of Stress Recognizing that you’re experiencing stress is the first step toward managing stress. The following are some common physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms associated with stress:
- Physical signs headaches, light-headedness, rapid breathing and heartbeat, sweaty palms, dry mouth, stomachaches and trouble sleeping or concentrating
- Emotional signs depression, anxiety, nightmares, crying spells or feeling unable to cope
- Behavioral signs irritability, impatience, anger, aggression, social isolation, lack of energy, changes in appetite, loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed, boredom, significant alcohol or drug use and diminished sex drive.
Ten Tips to Make your Home a HavenHealth Net’s behavioral health subsidiary, Managed Health Network, Inc., offers the following strategies designed to help make your home life happier and healthier:
Think Like An Optimistic Not A Pessimist
Many people are afraid of positive thinking, likening it to a mental trick where you ignore important problems or valuable cues in life, and eventually, make mistakes that bring even more stress.
Actually, realistic positive thinking can help you to be more effective in your life, and less stressed along the way.
One of the best positive thinking strategies you can adopt is optimistic thinking, which is a specific pattern of thinking that allows you to focus your attention on the accomplishments that maximize your confidence and allow you to do your best in the future.
Stress: We All Have It But It Doesnt Have To Control Us
Stressis an emotional, physical ormental tension that results from something thats outside of us.
Some ofthe bigger stressors or stressful life events include moving to a new place,changing roles at school or work, relationship issues or losing a familymember. Stress can cause sleep difficulties, including insomnia, bymaking it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. This impacts the qualityof rest. Stress can also cause hyperarousal, which can upset thebalance between sleep and wakefulness.
Beingstressed is associated with poor sleep in general, and may trigger morefrequent dreams. So its not uncommon to experience a distressing dream priorto a big event like a job interview, taking an exam or an importantappointment.
And although theres limitedresearch about controlling the content of dreams, anxiety dreams can generallybe a result of increased stress during our day-to-day lives. Daily stress canalso increase the frequency of these dreams.
The good news? You have a greatdeal of control over your stress. If you learn to better manage stress in yourlife, youll likely decrease anxiety-ridden dreams and improve your sleep.
Here are four simple strategiesto help your mind and body relax before turning in for the night:
You May Like: Can Stress Cause Chest And Back Pain
How Bad Stress Can End Up Being Excellent Stress And Anxiety
Not all forms of negative stress and anxiety can come to be good tension, yet it is feasible to transform your understanding of several of the stressors in your life. This change can alter your experience of tension.
The body responds highly to perceived threats. If you dont view something as a hazard, there is usually no threat-based stress response. If you regard something as a challenge rather, the anxiety you would usually experience may become exhilaration and expectancy, or at least resolve. You can commonly make the shift in perception by:
- Concentrating on the sources you have to satisfy the obstacle.Seeing the potential benefits of a scenario.
- Advising yourself of your staminas.
- Having a favorable frame of mind .
- As you practice looking at risks as obstacles regularly, it becomes more automatic, and also you experience more great anxiety and also less bad anxiety.
Develop Techniques That Will Help You To Feel In Control Of Your Life
There is plenty of research that suggests that the single factor that causes most stress is feeling out of control.
One way that you can help yourself to avoid stress is to develop techniques to help you solve problems and make decisions more easily.
For example, one problem-solving technique involves writing down the problem and coming up with as many possible solutions as you can. Decide on the good and bad points of each one and select the best solution. Write down each step that you need to take as part of the solution: what will be done, how will it be done, when will it be done, who is involved and where will it take place.
There is more about this and other techniques in our series of pages on Problem-Solving and Decision-Making.
Read Also: What To Do When You Want To Stress Eat
Take The Pressure Off Sleep
As mentioned, when losing sleep becomes a regular occurrence, bedtime itself can become stressful. If you’ve reached this point, there are a few things you can do to take the stress off insomnia.
First, if you’re having trouble sleeping, you might want to get up and do something after a few minutes, when you’re sure that sleep is a long way off.
It’s also a good idea to use your bedroom primarily for sleep so that you associate your bed and your bedroom with sleep and not stress. Think of getting up and reading a book, getting things done around the house, and doing other not-too-stimulating activities that can help foster sleep when you’re ready. Also, avoid caffeine during the afternoon and evening.
Up Your Avoidance Of Caffeine Alcohol And Nicotine
We previously said that it was a good idea not to have too much caffeine, alcohol and nicotine as a way to avoid stress. If you are already feeling stressed, this becomes even more important. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and so will increase your level of stress rather than reduce it.
Alcohol is a depressant when taken in large quantities, but acts as a stimulant in smaller quantities. Using alcohol as a way to alleviate stress is therefore not ultimately helpful.
Swap caffeinated and alcoholic drinks for water, herbal teas, or diluted natural fruit juices and aim to keep yourself hydrated. This will enable your body to cope better with stress.
You should also aim to avoid or reduce your intake of refined sugars – they are contained in many manufactured foods and can cause energy crashes which may lead you to feel tired and irritable.
There is more about this in our page What are Carbohydrates?.
Recommended Reading: Can Stress Cause Loss Of Appetite
What Causes Anxiety Twitching
Anxiety causes your nervous system to release neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that your body uses to send messages between neurons, or between neurons and muscles.
Some types of neurotransmitters will tell your muscles to move. When you have anxiety, neurotransmitters may be released even when theres no clear reason for them to be released. This is what can cause anxiety twitching.
Another reason anxiety can cause muscle twitching is because it can cause you to hyperventilate. Muscle twitching is one symptom of hyperventilation.
If your twitching happens long-term or interferes with your daily life, your doctor may be able to help. To diagnose your condition, theyll first take a medical history, which will include:
- questions about your symptoms
- when symptoms started
- details about the twitching
If youre also experiencing anxiety with the twitching, be sure to tell your doctor. That might be enough for them to diagnose you with twitching related to anxiety. However, they might still do tests to rule out other conditions.
These tests may include:
- blood tests to look for electrolyte problems or thyroid issues
- an electromyogram , which looks at how well your muscles work
- a CT scan or MRI of your brain or spine
- a nerve conduction test, to see if your nerves are working correctly
If you have anxiety and other potential causes of twitching can be ruled out, your doctor will likely be able to diagnose you with anxiety twitching.
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.
Engage your senses. Another fast way to relieve stress is by engaging one or more of your sensessight, sound, taste, smell, touch, or movement. The key is to find the sensory input that works for you. Does listening to an uplifting song make you feel calm? Or smelling ground coffee? Or maybe petting an animal works quickly to make you feel centered? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment to find what works best for you.
Don’t Miss: How Can You De Stress Yourself
The Benefits Of Focused Meditation
In this style of meditation, what youre really doing is exercising your mental muscles. Your brain is highly affected by dedicated and concentrated meditation practice.
Scientists have performed countless studies on focused meditation and have found that active meditators have more gray matter volume in their brain and, therefore, offsetting the cognitive decline that comes with aging. So, not only does practicing focused meditation help you learn how to focus better on certain tasks, but it also improves similar functions, such as memory.
Likewise, it helps in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, which our society is currently crippled with. By settling your attention on an object, you are essentially building your ability to observe your thoughts and sensations from a place of objectivity. This allows you to detach from negative self-talk that is often the breeding ground for depression and other mental illnesses.
From a guided meditation for focus to practicing it yourself, daily meditation for focus comes with several benefits:
- Itll reduce stress
- Helps you to focus on the present moment
- Increase your creativity and imagination
- And boost your patience and tolerance for things.
Tips For Managing Chronic Stress
Successful management of chronic stress can vary from person to person what works for you may not for someone else. Here are some stress-busting tips may help you cope with stress:
- Get active. Physical activity can positively affect your mood and reduce stress. Walking is a great way to start, but if you want something more invigorating, try a heart-pumping aerobic activity like jogging, dance, or swimming. Just make sure you check with your doctor first.
- Try tai-chi or other relaxation exercises. Activities like tai-chi, yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises may take you out of your comfort zone, but they can be a worthwhile experience for many people. For example, one study among older individuals published in The Journals of Gerontology found that tai chi helped reduce participants stressful feelings while increasing positive emotions.
- Prioritize your sleep. Getting enough sleep is important for many areas of your health and wellbeing, and its benefits on stress management are no different. When you sleep, your brain unpacks much of the days activities and stressors during the various phases of sleep, including rapid-eye-movement. These tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help train your brain to sleep longer and better for optimal health benefits.
- Avoid self-isolation. Surround yourself with a support network of people who care about your wellbeing, and use that network when you need it.
Don’t Miss: Can Stress Cause Crohn’s Disease
When Does Stress Become Chronic
Stress that lasts for weeks or months indicate chronic stress.
Chronic stress can impact your overall health. One risk is high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. For example, studies have shown that chronic stress is associated with a hypertension . Furthermore, some risks can snowball into others: Hypertension, for example, can raise your risk for other health problems, such as heart attack or stroke.
Similarly, the hormone cortisolwhich gets released during chronic stressmay also lead to cravings of sweets and fats. As we all know, unhealthy eating can also raise your risk for obesity or other chronic diseases.
But the consequences of chronic stress dont stop with the physical effects. Stress can affect your emotional or mental health toonot just making you more prone to nervous or anxious feelings, but also more depressed. Recently, the American Medical Association acknowledged how anxiety and depression can be connected, as well as how the isolation of COVID-19 may exacerbate problems.
Whats Causing Your Stress The Common Culprits
My recent research shows the most common cause of stress is the feeling that there isnt enough time to get it all done, said Dr. Heidi Hanna, an integrative neuroscientist and executive director for the American Institute of Stress. People have more demand on their time and energy than they have capacity, and constant connection to technology aggravates the situation.
Research shows the most common cause of stress is the feeling that there isnt enough time to get it all done.
She explained that many people also fail to realize that internal stress has a tendency to make external circumstances much more difficult to deal with. For example, if youre not catching enough ZZZs, eating crummy food or living a sedentary life, your nervous system is more agitated and more likely to respond hastily to perceived stressors or threats in your environment.
With all the advances in technology, its easy to forget that were still dealing with a very primitive brain pattern that is hardwired to protect us at all costs, said Dr. Hanna. If we think we dont have enough of something whether its time, energy, money or other resources like social support the stress reaction system is activated.
Other common causes of stress, outside of not being able to get it all done, include our finances, health and relationships. These things tend to be at the forefront of our minds anyway, but are exacerbated when were facing an obstacle.
Also Check: How Can I Get Rid Of Anxiety And Stress
Learn To Avoid Procrastination
Another way to take control of your stress is to stay on top of your priorities and stop procrastinating.
Procrastination can lead you to act reactively, leaving you scrambling to catch up. This can cause stress, which negatively affects your health and sleep quality .
Get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and work your way down the list.
Work on the things that need to get done today and give yourself chunks of uninterrupted time, as switching between tasks or multitasking can be stressful itself.
Prioritize what needs to get done and make time for it. Staying on top of your to-do list can help ward off procrastination-related stress.
Yoga has become a popular method of stress relief and exercise among all age groups.
While yoga styles differ, most share a common goal to join your body and mind.
Yoga primarily does this by increasing body and breath awareness.
Some studies have examined yogas effect on mental health. Overall, research has found that yoga can enhance mood and may even be as effective as antidepressant drugs at treating depression and anxiety .
However, many of these studies are limited, and there are still questions about how yoga works to achieve stress reduction.
In general, the benefit of yoga for stress and anxiety seems to be related to its effect on your nervous system and stress response.
Accept Your Weaknesses And Everyone Else’s
You may have known by the title of this article that a great way to relieve stress is to simply ease up on yourselfgive yourself a break. You can also relieve stress by giving everyone else a break as well.
Don’t take things as personally, don’t hold onto grudges, and try to see the best in people by understanding how things may feel from their perspective. Learn to forgive yourself and others for past mistakes.
There are many effective ways to do this, but the loving-kindness meditation is one that incorporates the highly effective stress management tool of meditation in a way that helps lift your mood and helps you relax.
Recommended Reading: Can You Get Colitis From Stress
Path To Improved Well Being
Stress can cause health problems or make existing problems worse. Talk to your family doctor if you think your symptoms could be caused by stress. Its important to make sure they arent caused by other health problems.
Learn to recognize when youre feeling stressed. Early warning signs of stress include tension in your shoulders and neck or clenching your hands into fists. Try to avoid the event or situation that leads to your stress. If thats impossible, change how you react to stress.