Stress can be hard to scientifically define as it is a subjective phenomenon. Often the word is used to describe our reactions to certain behavior exhibited by others like a boss being tough, a customer that insists on certain things you are not allowed to give, pressure from your parents or peers, etc. But these examples and countless like it is not really stress itself but stressors that illicit a response from us. Stress itself is quite difficult to define as it varies from individual. We undergo stress when our bodies start releasing chemicals into our blood which gives us more strength and a boost in energy. This explains why when that boss (the stressor) puts the pressure on you to finish a deadline at the last minute, you find that you are able to be more productive and create better output. Stress can be either good or bad as it all depends on the situation. In this article, we will try to tackle the bad side of stress and how being in this heightened state of strength and energy is wreaking havoc to your mind and body.
Chronic stress impacts your health negatively as physical manifestations start to show and or be felt. High blood pressure, headaches, body ache, and even certain diseases like diabetes, or stroke often affect us when we are so stressed out. Certain anxiety disorders and even depression may follow.
Therefore, reducing stress is a must in improving our health and it should always be a target in our long-term health goals.
Start with identifying your stress triggers. Be observant of the situations happening around you and start taking note of your reactions. Writing down your observations will greatly help in keeping track of your responses. Once you are able to do so, you’ll get a clearer idea of what things are stressing you out and will be able to slowly eliminate or lessen your contact with these stressors.
As hard as it is to do, we need to start seeing things from different angles and change the way we perceive stressful situations. Many common events cause most people to immediately feel stressed and overwhelmed. Death, divorce, break-up, job loss, a new job, moving, exams, injury, and other interpersonal conflicts are all normal. Yes, they may be hard to go through but know that there is always a way to get by and there will always be people you can reach out so you can talk and unburden yourself. Listening to other people’s perspective in any of these situations may just give you a better understanding of how to approach these stressors and handle them in a way conducive to your living.
Learn how to evaluate situations more constructively and not focus too much on how it makes you feel but rather how you can approach it so solutions can be seen. Remember, it is not just about “thinking positively” but rather thinking in the most helpful, rational, solutions-driven way.
Having solid relationships can also be a great way to de-stress. Strong relationships need not always be of the romantic kind which many people always think about. A strong bond with your family, siblings, close circle of friends, a support group are all great things to maintain. They can listen to your problems, offer good advice, and even help out in times of great need. This alleviates the burden of having to go through tough situations on your own.
Give your body enough rest. Oftentimes, when we deal with the stressors in our lives, we tend to overwork ourselves thinking that it would be best to go about it this way. By the time, we get home, we’d be so exhausted that we just drop our bodies to the bed and try to sleep, only to find that despite being overworked we could not sleep properly. Then we wake up in the hour we need to, to once again go to work and burn more of our energy. This isn’t proper rest. Stress and sleep deprivation is bidirectional. The reason why you’re able to be up and do all that work is that stress can keep you awake and not getting sleep contributes to your stress level. It’s a nasty cycle that needs to be broken. Give your body time to relax. Turn your room into a sanctuary conducive to sleep and develop good sleep hygiene. First, reduce your caffeine and sugar intake. Make sure you stick to a sleeping schedule. Check your windows and put in screens or curtains that can block sunlight. Avoid touching gadgets that tell your brain it’s “daytime” like cellular phones, computers, or the television. Using aromatherapy can also help you sleep much better. Smelling certain scents at specific hours will help in the relaxation process.
Investing in an electric oil diffuser would be a good idea because they come with safety features and you don’t have to light a candle which makes it less a fire hazard. Scents like citrus, chamomile, and lavender are great to have around as they can help you relax.
Start exercising regularly. Moderate exercise done regularly greatly helps in reducing your stress level. You don’t have to immediately sign up for expensive gym membership. Start by walking every day and incorporating weights. Pretty soon, you’ll find that not only are you getting more relaxed but dropping unwanted weight too. Exercising is beneficial not only physically but mentally as well.
Learn to relax your mind and your body. There are numerous techniques you can do yourself and they include breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, and even muscle relaxation. They help you clear your mind, reduce tension, and slow down your heart rate especially in those highly stressful moments.
Check this resource out for many guided meditations. Free Guided Meditations – UCLA Health
If doing all the above still has not contributed to your quality of life, learn when to seek help. Consult a psychologist or mental health provider. You don’t have to suffer from a serious mental ailment in order to seek professional help. Asking for expert advice is a good thing as they can help you in identifying the underlying problems and developing a more effective coping strategy to suit you. Do not be afraid to invest in yourself and in your well-being. You are worth it.