Feeling overwhelmed and stressed seems to be a normal occurrence nowadays, many people are dealing with chronic stress that is causing them physical symptoms such as high blood pressure, muscle tension, trouble falling asleep, and in some extreme cases, serious illness.
Whilst we cannot abolish stress and anxiety completely from our lives, there are ways that we can manage stress so that when our fight or flight stress response riles up, we are able to reduce stress levels and cope in the best way possible as individuals.
What will be touched on in today’s article, is how stress affects the body, and how we can relieve stress in a proactive and effective way.
What Are The Symptoms of Chronic Stress?
When stress surges in our bodies it can affect the way we think, act, feel, and the way our bodies work due to the increase in stress hormones.
Some of the most common symptoms of overwhelming stress are –
- Sleeping problems
- Loss of appetite
- Finding it difficult to concentrate
- Low self-esteem
- Feel irritable and anxious
- Worry excessively
- Lose your temper and act unreasonably
You may also experience physical sensations as well –
- Sweating a lot
- Feeling dizzy
- Muscle tension and pain/spasms
What Factors Contribute to Stress?
It has been noted that there are some factors when it comes to feeling stressed, for example, genetics, social support, coping style, and personality can all contribute to your level of stress and how you react to managing stress.
Who Are More Likely to Have High-Stress Levels?
Research has shown that people in professions such as healthcare, social work, parents, people of color, and individuals who are LGBTQIA+ will have a lot more stress than others, with them struggling with their mental health daily.
Why is it Important to Practice Stress Management?
Not only will stress management help with people’s mental health, but it will also benefit them physically by stopping the automatic response their nervous system goes to when faced with a stressful situation.
We all feel stressed at some point, but if we increase stress, even inadvertently, in our lives then it can lead to serious health problems causing our physical and mental well-being to suffer.
What to Do When You Are Feeling Stressed
Now that you know what can happen when you get stressed, it is time to see how you can contribute to your stress relief and support your body’s relaxation response.
Eat a Healthy Diet
It may seem like a healthy diet will only be important for keeping the body ticking over, but the food you eat will also have an impact on your mental health.
There have been studies on the link between a highly processed food diet and stress levels, which have said that people who eat this type of food will potentially experience a higher amount of stress.
Plus, if you deal with stress daily then you will probably overeat as well which will contribute to feeling unwell as well as gaining weight.
If you do not eat food that is rich in nutrients such as B vitamins and magnesium, then this can open you up to dysregulation of your moods and make you feel increasing amounts of stress and anxiety.
Focus on Deep Breathing
To help you cope with stress, you may want to think about doing some deep breathing to help you calm your body down and stop it from raising your stress levels even higher.
Your stress hormones will trigger your fight or flight response in your body which can cause you to have a faster heartbeat with quicker breathing.
Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises can benefit your body as well as your mind, stopping you from triggering that physical discomfort.
Focus on deep breathing exercises such as abdominal breathing, belly breathing, and diaphragmatic breathing, to help you calm your body down and provide you with a clearer outlook.
Go to a Yoga Class
If you are someone who likes to exercise and you find the benefit in getting out there, then you are happy to know that it will also help you with managing stress and anxiety, as well as keeping you fit.
Yoga is a wonderful way to give your body the workout it needs whilst also being relaxing enough to not work you up, especially if you are doing it at the end of the day to wind down.
Yoga can possibly lower your blood pressure, reduce your cortisol levels, and heart rate by taking a yoga class or doing it by yourself.
If you find it to be more relaxing going it alone, then you can find YouTube videos that walk you through how to do each pose properly, just make sure that you have enough space and the right equipment, as well as ensure that you will be left alone so you don’t constantly get interrupted.
Be Direct and Tell People “No”
Being a people pleaser is a tough road to walk down.
You find it hard to tell people no and you always seem to be roped into doing stuff you really don’t want to do which can set your stress levels very high.
Learn to say no to people and stand up for yourself when you think it is the right time to do so.
You shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for setting boundaries, and if you have a friend or family member who makes you feel stressed or bad about your choices, tell them firmly that you are doing it for your own mental health and that you want to do this.
They may push back initially, especially as they may be used to you always saying yes, but after a while, they will get used to it and have to accept it, and if they don’t, then distance yourself from them as all the are doing is creating more trouble than what it is worth.
You can’t go anywhere in this day and age without hearing about the importance of self-care and why people should be doing it to help them not only manage stress and support their mental health but to benefit them physically.
There is so much that you can do for self-care, this includes, but is not limited to –
- Going for a walk
- Taking a bath
- Getting a massage
- Doing your favorite hobby
- Preparing a meal
All of these things will benefit you and you won’t have to spend loads of money doing them, there is a whole range of self-care activities out there, so pick one (or a few) that speak to you most.
See Your Family and Friends
There is nothing better than spending time with your friends and family when you need a supportive pick-me-up.
Sometimes people are able to deal with stress alone and work through it at their own pace, but it is important to be able to reach out to others who can help you work through it as well as offer up their own ideas that could be a great help.
Seek Outside Help
Not everyone has the support of their family.
If this is you then turn to your friends instead, otherwise, you can look at joining a support group whether it be online or in-person, to help you with coping in your day-to-day life as it is important that you don’t feel like you are on your own.
Go For a Walk in Nature
Feelings of stress and anxiety can dissipate when we get in tune with nature.
Walking through a thick forest or on a nature trail can help raise our mood as well as get a good amount of exercise and fresh air.
You can either go by yourself or take someone with you to share that feeling.
Just be sure to tell people where you are going and how long you may potentially be gone so they know what the timeframe is.
You don’t want to be causing them stress because you have suddenly gone off without telling people where you are going.
Cuddle With Your Pets
Our pets can be our best friends in a way.
They don’t judge you and they can listen to you for hours.
Just being with them can provide relief for a lot of people and give them that comfort that they desperately need in times of upset and crisis.
What Can Owners Feel?
There have been some studies on the connection between dogs and their owners.
It has been said that people who own dogs tend to have greater life satisfaction, reduced levels of loneliness, and they have more positive moods.
Going through a stressful period that can lead to chronic stress is a lot for one person to deal with, and if you think that your stress is getting out of hand, then you will need to speak to a professional to help you through it.
Whilst that is important to consider, these above suggestions should be used to help you during this time, as well as in between so you are constantly doing what you can to help you stave off stress.
You are doing the best you can and that is all anyone can hope for.
Don’t beat yourself up about what you are going through, it happens to everyone at some point, just focus on getting yourself through it.