Go On A Cleaning Binge
Giving the inside of your pantry a good wipe-down or really getting into the sofa cushions with a vacuum attachment has multiple stress reducing benefits on top of fewer visits from icky vermin: its a project that requires a little planning, but some physical activityboth of which Kissen says can reduce stressand is likely to result in a sense of achievement that lifts your mood. And working mindfully at it can reduce stress even more: one study found that folks who were told to stay gently focused on what they were doing while washing dishes boosted their effect
Identify The Source Of The Stress
Take a moment to think about what is getting to you. If you could wave a magic wand and make your sources of stress go away, what would those be? Being able to pinpoint your source of stress gives you perspective and a certain amount of power over it, whether its caused by things like a work deadline, a pile of undone laundry, an upcoming exam or an argument with a loved one.
Get In Some Light Exercise
Dr. Saltz recommends doing any form of aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes, three or four times a week a is great for stress, anxiety, and improving your mood. Some examples of heart rate-boosting activities include a light jog, dance cardio, or sex. She encourages you to find an activity that you find the most fun and stick with it. If possible, squeeze it in before work, during your lunch break, or even make exercise a family activity after work by taking a walk.
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Incorporate Physical Activity Into Your Day
Getting up and moving around is important for both your physical and mental health. A 15-minute walk at lunchtime or half an hour working in the garden can help relieve some tension and get you out of your head for a while. You dont have to train for a marathon to get the benefit shooting hoops in the driveway or walking your dog is enough to redirect your energy and improve your mood.
Emotional First Aid Kit
An emotional first aid kit can provide an immediate, although temporary, positive effect on the way we think and feel. Having an emotional first aid kit readily available can help people who are struggling with symptoms of depression, anxiety, low self esteem, or other mental and emotional issues.
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The Effects Of Stress On Your Body
Stress can be normal, especially that it is already part of our daily lives. When you experience stress, a part of your brain, specifically the hypothalamus reacts, allowing the release of stress hormones. Stress hormones are the same hormones that make you sense the fight or flight response of your body.
When you are threatened, stressed, or having an intense emotion, you will feel that your heart is beating fast, as your heart rate increases. Your breath also becomes faster, your muscles start to shake, and for some, it leads to uncontrollable shedding of tears.
Chronic stress can affect your body, both in terms of your physical health and mental health. If left untreated or unmanaged, it may result in consistent irritability, anxiety disorder, depression or major depressive disorder, insomnia, headache, back pain, shoulder pain, diarrhea, constipation, stomachache, and nausea and vomiting.
For some, stress is diverted to overeating, substance abuse , as well as social withdrawal. It can even lead to certain illnesses and serious health conditions like high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, type 2 diabetes, heartburn or acid reflux, erectile dysfunction for males, and irregular, heavier, or more painful menstruation for females.
Take Action: Get Active
Regular physical activity can help prevent and manage stress. It can also help relax your muscles and improve your mood. So get active:
- Aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity try going for a bike ride or taking a walk
- Do strengthening activities like push-ups or lifting weights at least 2 days a week
Remember, any amount of physical activity is better than none!
Read more about:
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The Effects Of Stress On The Immune System
People who experience stress frequently are more likely to suffer health conditions. Overwhelming amounts of stress can weaken the immune systems resistance, making the body susceptible to various conditions .
This happens due to stress affecting the functions of the central nervous system and the neuroendocrine system. Neural and neuroendocrine responses release stress mediators, but too much stress may decrease the capabilities of these mediators .
The effect of stress on the body may lead to malignancy, as the immune system becomes suppressed and compromised. This means that growth hormones may be held back, and certain hormones being suppressed can disrupt how the immune systems balance functions .
Make Time To Do What You Enjoy
TIME SPENT DOING WHAT YOU ENJOY IS ESSENTIAL TO EFFECTIVELY COPING WITH STRESS.
Even if its just for half an hour, carving out time to make a casserole, play your guitar, dig in the garden or watch an episode of your favorite show can remind you of the value found in doing things you enjoy. Spending a little time doing your hair, singing, talking to a friend on the phone or reading a book can help you refresh and de-stress.
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Get A Hug From A Loved One
Physical touch can do a lot to relieve your stress. Hugging a loved one can be especially beneficial.
When you hug someone, oxytocin is released. Oxytocin is associated with higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress.
Oxytocin also causes a reduction in blood pressure. It reduces the stress hormone norepinephrine and can produce a sense of relaxation.
So don’t be afraid to ask a loved one for a hug if you need it. It’s good for both of you and it can be one of the simplest forms of stress relief available.
The Effects Of Stress On The Nervous System
The effect of stress on the body includes structural changes in certain parts of the brain . Chronic stress may lead to the atrophy of brain mass, which can decrease its overall weight . These changes affect how a person deals with stress, especially in connection to their cognitive functions and memory.
Both long-term memory and short-term memory depend strongly on the hippocampus, a part of the brain with a high density of glucocorticosteroid receptors, which are affected by stress . When stress becomes overwhelming and affects this part, memory loss and disorders can occur.
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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.
The Type Of Stress Matters
Stress can affect you both instantly and over time .
Acute stress is the body’s instant response to any situation that seems demanding or dangerous. Your stress level depends on how intense the stress is, how long it lasts, and how you cope with the situation.
Most of the time, your body recovers quickly from acute stress. But stress can cause problems if it happens too often or if your body doesn’t have a chance to recover. In people with heart problems, acute stress can trigger an abnormal heartbeat or even a heart attack.
Chronic stress is caused by stressful situations or events that last over a long period of time. This could include having a difficult job or dealing with a chronic disease. If you already have a health problem, stress can make it worse.
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Tip : Identify Your Stress Response
Internally, we all respond the same way to the fight-or-flight stress response: your blood pressure rises, your heart pumps faster, and your muscles constrict. Your body works hard and drains your immune system. Externally, however, people respond to stress in different ways.
The best way to quickly relieve stress often relates to your specific stress response:
Overexcited stress response: If you tend to become angry, agitated, overly emotional, or keyed up under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that quiet you down.
Underexcited stress response: If you tend to become depressed, withdrawn, or spaced out under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that are stimulating and energizing.
The immobilization or frozen stress response
Tips To Manage Stressful Situations
It might surprise you to learn that biological stress is a fairly recent discovery. It wasnt until the late 1950s that endocrinologist Hans Selye first identified and documented stress.
Symptoms of stress existed long before Selye, but his discoveries led to new research that has helped millions cope with stress. Weve compiled a list of the top 10 ways to relieve stress.
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Healthy Lifestyle Actions To Reduce And Manage Stress
Stress is a normal response to dealing with changes and challenges in daily life. In the short term, stress can help you perform better under pressure, but constant stress can pose problems for your health. Stress causes the release of cortisol, the stress hormone, as well as adrenaline, which influences your blood pressure, heart rate, eating habits, sleep patterns, blood sugar levels, fat metabolism and your ability to fight-off illness. Long term stress can also increase your risk of heart attack or stroke and contribute to depression.
These lifestyle actions can help you reduce or manage the stress in your life.
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.
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When To Seek Help
If stress is affecting your work, school, home life or relationships, and you feel you cant manage it alone or with support from a loved one, seek help from a doctor who may refer you to a psychologist.
The Australian Psychological Society has a Find a Psychologist service, which can be used to locate a psychologist in your local area call 1800 333 497.
Learn How To Relax And Have Fun
- Set aside time for yourself each day.
- Time to relax, rest and take a break from all your responsibilities.
- Keep your sense of humour!
- Connect with others. Spend time with people who have a positive impact on your life.
- Have lunch or go for a walk with a friend.
- Do something you enjoy every day.
- Listen to music you enjoy.
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Spend Some Time In Nature
As previously reported by Health, spending time in nature has a profound effect on our stress levels. According to a study in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research, even spending just 20 minutes in a park does wonders for our well-being. According to research psychologist Kelly McGonigal, PhD, author of The Joy of Movement, incorporating a little nature every day is beneficial to managing your stress levels. Depending on how youre social distancing, getting to a park every day may not be easy, but even a short daily walk outside would suffice and help you clear your head.
Remember To Seek Help And Support When You Need It
Remember, that it is okay to ask for professional help. If you feel that you are struggling to manage on your own, then you can reach out. It is important to know that you can get help as soon as possible, and that you deserve to get better.
The first person to approach is your family doctor. He or she should be able to give advice about treatment, and may refer you to another local professional. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness based approaches are known to help reduce stress. There are also a number of voluntary organisations which can help you to tackle the causes of stress and advise you about ways to get better.
Anxiety UK runs a helpline staffed by volunteers with personal experience of anxiety from 9:30-5:30, Monday to Friday. Call 08444 775 774.
Citizens Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice for a range of problems as well as providing information on your rights and responsibilities.
StepChange provides help and information for people dealing with a range of debt problems. Freephone 0800 138 1111.
Mind provides information on a range of mental health topics to support people in their own area from 9.00am to 6.00pm, Monday to Friday. Call 0300 123 3393 or email .
Rethink Advice and Information Service
Rethink provide specific solution-based guidance – 0300 5000927 Fax: 020 7820 1149 email .
Specialist mental health services
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Reframe Your Thinking About Stress Itself
Stress responses, including faster heart rate and breathing, evolved to improve our performance in stressful situations. Reminding yourself of stresss evolutionary value may improve your performance and paradoxically reduce feelings of stress, in that youre not adding stress about stress to the stress the original trigger aroused.
Have You Had Any Recent Major Life Changes
Life changes such as getting married, moving to a new city, or losing a job can all be stressful. You can’t always control these things, but you can control how you respond to them.
To find out your current stress level based on recent changes in your life, try this Interactive Tool: What Is Your Stress Level?
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What Are The Signs Of Stress
You can learn to notice the signs in your body that indicate stress is becoming a problem. Recognising the signs and symptoms of stress will help you figure out ways of coping and save you from adopting unhealthy methods such as drinking or smoking.
Signs that you may be stressed include:
- muscle tension and headaches
- poor sleep or sleeping too much
- being irritable or moody
- not being able to concentrate
- relying on alcohol or drugs to cope
- feeling overwhelmed or anxious or like you can’t cope
Look After Yourself Physically
When you are physically fit and well, it is much easier to cope with stress.
When you become stressed, it is harder to motivate yourself to care about what you eat, or whether you exercise. However, not doing so can also make you more stressed. Get into good habits while your stress levels are fairly low, and you may find that they never go up again. These good habits include:
Taking regular exercise
Stressful situations increase the level of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in your body.
These are the fight or flight hormones that evolution has hard-wired into our brains and which are designed to protect us from immediate bodily harm when we are under threat. However, stress in the modern age is rarely remedied by a fight or flight response. Physical exercise can be used as a surrogate to metabolise the excessive stress hormones and restore your body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state.
Try to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine on a regular basis, either before or after work, or at lunchtime. Regular physical activity will also improve the quality of your sleep.
You can assess your levels of daytime sleepiness with the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.
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What Are Some Strategies To Reduce Stress
It may not be possible to remove the stress from your life, but managing your stress may help you to get things done.
Below are some ideas for managing stress.
- Take charge deal with unhelpful sources of stress before they build up and become a bigger problem.
- Make choices look at areas in your life where you could manage your situation better or change the way you respond.
- If youre already feeling stressed, consider postponing major changes like changing jobs or moving house.
- Sort out any personal conflicts or relationship problems by communicating honestly and seeking counselling.
- Spend time doing things you enjoy.
- Try to avoid long hours at work. Learn to say no.
- Try to avoid smoking, alcohol and caffeine.
If youre feeling stressed, its a good idea to have a general health check with your doctor. You can talk to your doctor about ways to help you bounce back and cope with stress.