We have to face it: our lives are stressful. Driving to work is stressful, working is stressful, getting home and making dinner can be stressful. Paying the bills, the rent, the mortgage, buying presents, facing the holidays, the list goes on.
Life is stressful. Stress is not good for us. We all need to find an appropriate balance between stress and our mental well being.
Effects of Stress on the Body
Stress causes a physical reaction in the body, called fight or flight, or the stress response. Stress increases adrenaline, tenses the muscles, and raises blood pressure and breathing rate. Biologically speaking, it readies the body to either fight, or run.
In today's terms, stress symptoms cause us to tense up, raises our blood pressure, then, after the situation is resolved, it leaves us exhausted in its wake.
Long Term Effects on the Body
Recurrent stress can be detrimental to our health. It can cause headaches, upset stomach, back pain, muscle tension and sleeping difficulties. It can also weaken the immune system, making us susceptible to illness. Stress also makes us moody and tense, and all these things together frequently cause weight gain.
What to do About Stress
First, it's important to figure out what causes your stress. What are the situations that make you most stressed? Next, identify ways you can relieve stress. If your job causes serious stress, maybe it's time to move to a new part of the company, or find a new job. If that's not possible, explore ways to deal with your stress. Whatever you do, try to change or eliminate the situation causing stress. Finally, find ways to relieve stress. Physical activity has shown itself to be a great way to relieve stress.
Tips to Relieve Stress
- Try a meditative exercise like yoga, pilates or tai chi.
- Cardio exercise mimics the fight or flight symptoms and relieves them at the same time.
- Leave the stressful situation by taking a walk, going to a quiet place (even if it's the restroom) and take a few deep breaths, relax, and clear your mind.
- Sleep. Sleep has been shown to have many restorative functions, allowing us to recuperate and prepare ourselves for the day ahead.
Taking control of your life can go a long ways in reducing stress. By eliminating stressful situations, finding effective ways to reduce stress, sleeping well and eating well, you can implement healthy habits to carry you through life.