Modern society moves at lightning speed, and the need to be more efficient and productive has never been greater. Technology has improved our lives in many ways, but the constant connectivity can often be pressurizing, especially with the advent of social media.
In addition, with global crises, wars, political instability, financial downturns, and other bad news of everyday life constantly hitting the airwaves, it is no wonder that some of us are registering record levels of stress in the US and many other countries!
You aren't alone if you’ve been feeling a little anxious recently. And fret not; there are many ways to help with stress management, and in this blog post, we’ll look at some of them!
What is Stress?
Stress is an instinctive response of our bodies when faced with mental and physical challenges or threats. As a stress response, our bodies release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to help us prepare to deal with a situation that we deem dangerous or overwhelming.
The release of such hormones puts our bodies into a fight-or-flight mode, which can manifest in physical symptoms such as an elevated heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, or tensing your muscles.
You might also have an emotional response and feel anxious, frustrated, fearful, or irritable. If left unchecked, acute stress can lead to more chronic conditions like depression or anxiety disorders.
Each person responds to stress differently, as some are more resilient and are better able to cope, while others might be more sensitive and feel more affected.
What Causes Stress?
Many factors can cause stress, and how individuals react to one stressor might not bother others. However, some key factors that are usually the culprit are:
Most people get stressed with work when it gets overwhelming or a deadline looms. The pressure to meet performance expectations is easily handled by some but can be a big stressor for others, especially those with job insecurity.
Closely interrelated with work are financial concerns, especially if you are struggling to make ends meet and have dependents. The need to survive is strong for all of us, and some are barely making it.
If you aren’t feeling top-notch, your mental state will follow suit. Illness, injury, and chronic conditions will take their toll on the best of us.
A key stressor can be conflict with your friends, significant other, or family members.
If you are known to be too hard on yourself, you might feel inadequate in your work and personal life, leading to insecurities and unrealistic personal expectations of yourself. This makes it difficult for you to deal with stressful situations objectively.
There are many other causes of stress, like a particular situation you are stuck in, travel plans, or loss, so identify the cause of your stress and deal with it accordingly.
Effects of Stress
Symptoms of stress can manifest itself both physically and emotionally.
- Muscle Ache - You might be extra tense around the neck, shoulders, and back, which might lead to muscle tension or spasms.
- Tummy Issues - You might feel sick to the gut and be more prone to acid reflux, heartburn, indigestion, or constipation.
- Heart Health - Stress isn’t good for your health, as you might develop high blood pressure, an elevated heart rate, or heart disease.
- Lowered Immune System - You might get sick more often and leave yourself open to viruses such as the flu or a cold.
- Sleep Disorders - Your mind going a thousand miles an hour doesn’t help your sleeping patterns.
- Hair Loss - People under severe stress have been known to have their hair fall out more than usual.
- Weight Loss or Gain - Those under stress might be “stress eating,” a condition where you eat for comfort. Others might lose their appetite and not be able to eat.
- Depression - Chronic stress can lead to depression if you can’t get yourself out of the rut.
- Panic Attacks - Constant stress can also trigger panic attacks where you have difficulty breathing and have a significantly elevated heart rate and blood pressure.
- Anxiety - Stress is a leading cause of anxiety, where you worry constantly and have the impending feeling of doom.
10 Natural Methods to Reduce Stress
Maintain a Healthy Diet
You are what you eat, and a person on a healthy diet of fruits, veggies, and whole grains will be in a better mental state than someone else who constantly eats saturated fats and processed foods.
You don’t have to run a marathon, but a brisk 30-minute daily walk, aerobics, or another physical activity will get a good blood flow and release endorphins.
Take Conscious Breaths
Do some breathing exercises or yoga to cultivate deep breathing, being mindful of every breath.
No man or woman is an island, so get out there and meet new people, hang with your buddies, or cuddle a loved one. Social contact is essential for a healthy mental state.
Close your eyes and do 10 to 15 minutes of meditation each day so you can have just a bit of time with yourself without any thoughts or distractions.
Stretching and Yoga
Stretch to keep your body agile, and do some yoga to get your blood flowing.
Keep a Journal
Pen your thoughts in a journal, or write about three good things that happened to you during the day or three things you’ve learned.
Take a Nature Walk
Getting outdoors is good for anyone’s soul, so grab those hiking boots and go for a walk surrounded by nothing but nature to relieve stress.
Maintain a Healthy Sleep Cycle
Sleep quality is of utmost importance to mental health, so be sure to get enough sleep and stick to a relaxation routine just before bedtime. A good night’s sleep is an excellent way to relieve stress!
Reduce Screen Time
Screen time can be helpful, but excessive screen time can be damaging to your mental health as your world shrinks into the size of a smartphone.
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*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.