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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How to Deal With Stress the Healthy Way

How to Deal With Stress the Healthy Way

In the modern world, emotional stress has risen. Many people are either affected or infected with stress. It can be a sense of physical or emotional tension caused by certain internal and external factors, and many people simply don’t know how to deal with stress.

Stress is often produced by an event or thought that makes you feel angry, frustrated, or nervous. Whether you blame it on the psychological or social environment you’re exposing yourself to or the illness or medical problems you’re going through, us humans are always prone to stress.

Once you start experiencing stress, it initiates the flight and fight response due to a complex reaction caused by the endocrine and neurological systems. It leads to the production of catecholamines, such as adrenaline and noradrenaline[1]. They facilitate physical reactions that are associated with muscular action resulting in flight. These events may make you feel angry, frustrated, or nervous.

Consequently, stress demands that the body reacts to demand or change. Thus, it is just a normal feeling for humans. In some instances, it can be good as it will help someone in a time of danger or calamity, causing flight. However, if it lasts longer, it may be detrimental to your health.

2 Types of Stress

Acute Stress

This is a short term type of stress that goes away quickly. This type of stress can happen when you fight with a person, slam on the brakes, or go skiing. It helps you manage a certain situation that may endanger your life. It may also be experienced when one is too excited. It is normal to have such stress once in a while.

Short-term stress fades away quickly. It helps you deal with treacherous situations and may arise whenever you get excited or do something that involves adrenaline, so go easy on the sky diving.

Chronic Stress

Whenever the body system experiences prolonged stress levels, it may cause chronic stress. This type of stress can lead to severe health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, and destructive thoughts.

Chronic stress causes a rush in hormones; thus, there is lots of wear and tear on the body. It may cause more rapid aging, decreased immunity, and a higher likelihood of developing certain diseases.

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Chronic stress can be caused by a financial problem, toxic relationships, failures, failed marriage, or work. Unfortunately, all of us will likely experience one of these at some point, so it’s important to learn how to tackle this kind of stress before it does irreversible damage.

Can Stress Kill You?

Stress itself has no power over you. No matter if you are a small or severe stressor, your body will respond equally to the stress. This response doesn’t cause direct death, but it sure leads to certain health consequences over a period of time.

If you’re constantly experiencing stress, it may deteriorate your health and result in premature death. This could be because of a weakened cardiovascular system or unhealthy habits you adopt when in stress, such as smoking, alcohol abuse, overeating, etc. Therefore, it becomes paramount to manage the stress before it starts taking a toll on your health.

How to Know If Stress Is Affecting Your Health

Stress doesn’t become fatal all of a sudden. It will give you many alarms to remind you to act before it’s too late. When you start experiencing the signs mentioned below, take a hint that stress has started taking over your wellbeing and that you need to start focusing on how to deal with stress in a healthy way.

Physical Signs of Stress

When stress is prolonged without any relief, it can lead to distress. This is an adverse reaction. In most cases, it may affect the body’s balance and equilibrium[2].

This may lead to physical signs and symptoms, such as:

  • Upset stomach
  • Sleeping problems
  • Headaches
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Chest pain

More complicated stress levels may cause panic attacks, depression, as well as other types of anxiety. Studies have shown that stress can worsen certain types of diseases. Stress is also linked to suicide, cancers, accidents, heart disease, lung ailments cancer, and liver cirrhosis..

Emotional Signs of Stress

Depression

Depression is one of the major signs of stress. It is defined as a feeling that one experiences due to chronic stress or persistent low mood. It’s a feeling of hopelessness. Studies have shown that chronic stress can be linked to depression.

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It is also suggested that both acute and chronic stress predominantly affect women more than men. Depression affects mainly the working-age group due to the pressure caused by work and family life.

Anxiety

Research has found that stress can be related to anxiety and its disorders. It is mainly characterized by the fear of the unknown. When you’re dealing with chronic stress, even the smallest things tend to make you anxious. It can be a wedding, divorce, job loss or promotion, setback, and basic unpleasant situations you face in your day-to-day life.

Irritability

Anger and irritability are key signs of stress. Anger is linked to mental stress, anxiety, and heart attacks. Studies have shown that people, especially those with chronic stress levels, tend to get irritated very easily. Relaxation techniques, exercise, problem solving, and effective communication can help people manage anger under stress.

Low Sex Drive

People who suffer from chronic stress have shown low sex drive and intimacy levels. Chronic stress harms sex drive and arousal. This is brought about by high levels of cortisol. Research has shown that low libido and stress mainly affect women, but to some extent, it also affects men.

Memory and Concentration

Stress may also be characterized by low memory and concentration levels[3]. Research has found that chronic stress leads to loss of memory. If this goes on for long, it may affect long term memory. Certain painful, stressful events like grief affect some hormones that may affect how the brain works.

Compulsive Behavior

Compulsive behavior is highly linked to stress, and addiction stress can be aggravated and become dangerous when someone engages in certain behaviors. Stress may affect the way one usually reacts, which can lead to an unhealth addiction, such as substance abuse like alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and behavior such as shopping, porn, and gambling.

Mood Swings

Stress levels can cause mood swings. Each and every person has his or her own attitude towards things and their own perception levels. Stress can stop people from thinking clearly and get irritated at the smallest inconveniences. People can go from very happy to very sad in seconds if they are experiencing constant stress.

How to Deal With Stress in a Healthy Way

Managing stress is not something we should practice when our limit of toleration is exhausted. Instead, stress management should be incorporated in our day-to-day activities so that we can overcome it before it becomes harmful to our health.

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To start, let’s incorporate these healthy practices in our routine to deal with emotional and physical stress we go through.

1. Laugh

Whenever one is feeling anxious or stressed, it is very hard to laugh. Along with many other health benefits of laughing, it is a good remedy to relieve stress, as well. No matter how hard it may seem, try to get a good laugh in whenever you’re feeling stressed. Call a friend, watch a funny show, pull out an old photo-album, but don’t sit idle and overthink. Laughing relieves stress and tension by relaxing muscles as it boosts the immune system.

2. Meditation

Whenever you’re feeling stressed, don’t hesitate taking a break for a small meditation session. It can wipe away your stress and help you restore your inner peace and calmness. Even a 5-minute meditation break helps. It can eliminate the destructive thoughts and attain a positive attitude even in the worst situations.

A small meditation session can fill you with positive energy to carry out your day more calmly. It helps you gain new perspective about stressful situations and deal better with your problems.

3. Eat the Right Food

The food you eat has a huge impact on your mental health and stress levels. They can boost serotonin levels, which are responsible for calming the brain. Some foods may also reduce the adrenaline and cortisol levels, also known as stress hormones, in the body. Eating a healthy diet can effectively lower stress levels by boosting the immune system and reducing blood pressure.

Some good stress-busting foods include:

  • Fatty Fish
  • Spinach
  • Black Tea
  • Oranges
  • Avocados
  • Raw Veggies
  • Almonds
  • Pistachios

4. Spend Time With People Who Care

Getting social support from friends and relatives helps in getting over stressful times. Talk to them. Help them understand what you’re going through. They may or may not be able to solve your problems, but they won’t let you go through it alone. Having someone gives you a sense of belonging and self-worth, especially during these hard times.

5. Write It Down

The other way to manage stress is penning down your feelings in a journal or a diary. In that case, you can also write down the things you are grateful for. Gratitude may help you cope with stress and anxiety by filling you with positive energy and things to count on.

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6. Drink Milk

Milk is a stress reliever, especially when a warm glass of milk is drunk before bedtime[4]. This is because it offers calcium, which helps treat anxiety and depression and has been shown to naturally relax the body.

7. Use Herbal Supplements

Several herbal supplements can be used to manage stress. They can help you improve your mental health, especially in those who have mild to moderate depression. These herbal supplements tend to reduce the anxiety produced by stress. Valerian root[5] is commonly used to manage stress as it has a calming effect. It is recommended that you consult with your doctor and ask them about stress-relieving supplements to help you find what will work for you.

8. Get Exercise

Doing exercises is one of the vital things you can do to manage stress levels. Getting regular physical exercise relieves physical as well as mental stress. You can work out by going to the gym, jogging, or doing yoga in your garden. Aerobics or random dancing are also great ways to incorporate physical exercises in your routine.

If you don’t like exercising as such, you can pay more attention to your hobbies that involve physical movements. For example, many people like gardening. Researchers say that people who do gardening regularly tend to recover quickly from the stress and are less likely to feel stress[6]. Similarly, you can pursue hobbies like playing outdoor games, walking pets, dancing, etc.

9. Aromatherapy

Lighting a scented candle and using essential oils can also help reduce stress and anxiety levels. This process is called aromatherapy. It involves inhaling certain herbs and fragrances to calm your mind and put your body at ease. You can find a number of soothing fragrances to relax your mind, body, and soul. Below are some of the most common calming fragrances:

  • Bergamot
  • Lavender
  • Vetiver
  • Roman Rose
  • Chamomile
  • Neroli

10. Take a Walk

A simple walk can fix a lot of things and open your mind to a new perspective about the same situation. It helps you slow down, unraveling thoughts that destroy your peace of mind. Also, getting fresh air and vitamin D can help boost serotonin (the feel-good hormone) and improve your mood.

Indulging in different sights and sounds may also shift your focus from your problems to real life. If you can’t go outside, invite the outside in. Get more plants and flowers in your house. Studies show that staying close to nature and greenery helps in reducing stress levels.

Final Thoughts

No matter how hard a situation seems right now, everything is temporary. Every situation is going to change at some point, so do your best not to fall into the trap of chronic stress. Focus on the present moment and improving it in whatever way works for you. Once you learn how to deal with stress, you will find life naturally gets easier.

More on How to Deal With Stress

Featured photo credit: Jamie Brown via unsplash.com

Reference

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Deep Shikha

A passionate health blogger and founder of Healthifying World

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Published on March 2, 2021

How To Not Stress: 10 Stress Management Techniques

How To Not Stress: 10 Stress Management Techniques

It is not easy to decipher how to not stress, as stress is a part of life. Stress is the wear and tear of our mental and physical being as we continue to find soothing ways to cope with the constant change in our surroundings.

People often think of stress as related to work, chores at home, illnesses, and trying to beat rush hour traffic—which is not wrong—but it is more. Several factors trigger stress, but stress is the body’s internal reaction to fight or take flight in the presence of adversity.

In simple biological terms, stress is the state of increased arousal necessary for the human body to defend itself from a clear and present danger. Whenever we feel anxious, angered, tired, frightened, happy, excited, sad, or afraid, we are undergoing stress.

From minor challenges to major issues, stress is an acceptable and unavoidable pressure of human life. Stress is normal until we are incapable of controlling and coping with the overwhelming effect that stress becomes a problem.

Three in every four adults American suffer from stress—that is about 77 percent of the population.[1] Stress is triggered by anything from the economy, jobs, home front, kids, illnesses, and so on.

Types of Stress

In learning how not to stress, you must understand the types of stress and how you encourage it in your life. The causes of stress (stressors) are varied and multiple, but I am grouping them into two sectors.

External Stressors

These are external triggers that affect your immediate ability to stay focused or composed. They are:

  • Physical environment – confined spaces, light, noise, heat, brightness, and even darkness
  • Organizational – rules, regulation, deadlines, office gossips, pressure from work, etc
  • Social interaction – bullying, bossiness, disregard, harassment, aggressiveness (general human behavior towards you)
  • Life crises – death, relocation, new baby, marriage, losing your job, divorce, etc
  • Daily hassles – late in catching the bus, misplacing your car/house keys, mechanical breakdown, etc

Internal Stressors

These are stressors that emanate from our thoughts, mindset, and attitude. For example:

  • Your lifestyle – not getting enough sleep, busy schedules, caffeine or alcohol
  • Negative thoughts – pessimism, self-criticism, overthinking, feeling incapable.
  • Mind traps – being too personal about issues, unrealistic expectations, exaggerated or rigid mindset, etc
  • Personality traits – workaholic, OCD, perfectionist, etc

These factors contribute heavily to mental and physical stress leading to fear, anger, unforgiveness, and depression.

Stress and You

To consider stress as an ailment of modernity and technology is misinforming. Yes, our fast-paced lives and lifestyle are stressful, straining, and under relentless pressure. But we have actually created these triggers on our own. This is due to a desire for intense competitiveness and to match up with our peers. Stress is different for every individual, even if they are in the same situation.

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For example, a couple going through a bitter divorce will see the man enjoying himself while the lady suffers from bouts of emotional ups and downs. What is distressing to you may be nothing to another.

Take this example: a man works effectively in the comfort of his home yet finds working in a team or office stressful and overwhelming.

It is necessary to know that most of the stresses we experience are self-generated and self-induced. How we perceive (life)—whether a situation is threatening, sad, or happy—depends on how we see ourselves. The ability to recognize the stresses we create is the first step toward preventing stress.

Symptoms of Stress

Excessive, prolonging, and denying the existent of stress in our lives is detrimental and affects our entirety—and if left unresolved, results in a feeling of fear, anger, frustration, and depression.

Stress contributes to simple illnesses like headaches, skin diseases, ulcers, insomnia, and digestive problems. In severe cases, stress can lead to suicidal thoughts and death. The following are the symptoms of stress grouped into four categories.

Physical Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Change in sleep pattern without any obvious reason
  • Unstable digestive system resulting in diarrhea and inability to hold down food
  • Low sexual libido
  • Headaches and body pain
  • Dizziness, unnecessary sweating, and feeling faint
  • Palpitations, breathlessness, quickened heartbeats, or missed heartbeats

Mental Symptoms

  • Inability to focus
  • Memory lapses
  • Indecisiveness
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Fear/panic attack

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Eating disorder and appetite
  • Increase smoking and alcohol intake
  • Restlessness, fidgeting, and nail-biting

Emotional Symptoms

  • Depression
  • Easily irritated
  • Anger, rage, cry easily
  • Deterioration in hygiene habit and appearance

The primary triggers of stress are lack of financial stability, job security, family responsibility, personal relationship, health issues, and safety. Now that we have successfully categorized stress, it is time to recognize the one you are suffering from and choose a simple technique to manage it.

Remember, stress can be controlled, allowing you to live a fulfilling life.

10 Stress Management Techniques

The most common stress management techniques are eating right, exercise, yoga, and meditation. However, some stress is beyond these four techniques, so we will try to list out as many as possible to help you beat that stressful situation.

A set of simple yet effective techniques to help individuals identify, understand, and effectively deal with the stress in their lives to minimize the impact.

1. Change the Perspective

How many times have you replayed a negative situation and outcome in your head that never happens? We are all human, and as crazy as it sounds, negativity is appealing and more creative than positive things. However, stress is tied to negativity and our inability to break free from them.

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Changing your perspective is not as simple as ABC. However, you can start by analyzing the feeling, removing all exaggerated parts, pick out the truth (be honest here) and discard the rest. Phew, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Now, take the truth and work on it from a positive angle. You will immediately feel less stressed, disoriented, and angered. It will take some time, but never judge an issue from an exaggerated point of view.

2. Create a Journal

A problem shared is half solved. While we cannot all go about blabbing our predicaments to others, an effective way of sharing and solving is journaling. There is really nothing difficult about journaling—it is just you writing the day’s events and how they made you feel.

Stress takes clarity, focus, and awareness of our immediate environment from us. Well, journaling restores them back to you. When you write down your feelings, you can identify, understand and deal with them better than replaying them in your head. It allows you to separate your feelings, accurately define emotion connect with your internal aura for better clarity.

3. Mindful Breathing

Stress takes peace and stability away from your life. Breathing is held in high regard by Buddhists, Hindus, and Taoists who believe breathing is a system of reintroducing peace into a troubled soul.

Mindful breathing is breathing that comes from the pit of your belly. It is, deep consistent, and stress relieving breathes which calm you down.

Mindful breathing can be done anyway in two easy steps:

  • Gentle inhale air to fill your lungs and stomach while slowly counting to 3 or five through your nose
  • Hold for a second or two and gradually exhale while counting 1 through 5

Repeat this as many times as possible until you feel your power returning to you. As you exhale, imagine that you are breathing out the stressors and tension.

4. Positive and Guided Daydreaming

We all daydream—some are good, and others run wild with our imagination. Using guided images and thoughts, you can avert a stress situation from escalating.

For example, you just had a heated argument with your spouse on the phone, and you are at work. Two things can happen: have your mood down all day, or you can identify the stress and calm dissipate it with happier images—daydreaming.

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Close your eyes and imagine a happy memory. Use good thoughts to counteract negative ones ad build your confidence from deep within. Also, forgive the situation and yourself, else you will keep playing the thought in your mind.

5. Go Back to Your To-Do List

If you cannot complete the chores, let it be. Remember that trying to squeeze in more than you can handle is actually killing you gradually. Even superman rests once in a while, so you should, too.

Reducing or prioritizing your workload could be the solution to the constant headaches, backaches, and shoulders. If you are a mom, learn to delegate duties to your kids or allocate time to work for yourself.

6. Yoga It

Yoga is an Indian form of meditation that combines simple poses, deep breathing, and relaxation techniques to ward off stress and stressors. Yoga is an effective stress relief technique because it deals with the physical, emotional, and mental organs that stress hacks into. The immediate benefits of yoga are felt immediately, but the long-term impact is also beautiful.

To get started, you can follow simple yoga programs online or enroll in a class to help you to master the poses at your own pace. Yoga enables you to breathe easily, improves the clarity of thoughts and mind, relaxes the body and mental health. However, if the twist and turns of yoga are not for you, then you will enjoy the next technique.

7. Add Exercise to Your Routine

Our body is like a car engine, if you do not maintain it, it will crash when you need it most. Regular exercise builds a strong body, no doubt. However, it also builds a strong mind to deal with stresses that affect us daily. You do not have to HIIT or do any strenuous exercise, choose something simple and for 7 to 15 minutes every day.

Joining a gym or community fitness center is outstanding, but you can choose to walk, run, jog, swim or go dancing. The idea is to keep your body moving for fun. Furthermore, if you are the outdoorsy type, indulge in your passion and watch the stress melt away.

8. Massage and Detox Therapy

When your insides are unclean, it can lead to stress. Equally, tired and over-working can double the stress effect leading to illness and mental breakdown.

There are many reasons to go for a massage, and stress is one of them. Massages are an ideal tool for maintaining physical and emotional health. While detoxification is a way to relieve the stress on your internal organs, both will make you feel light and relaxed.

9. Imbibe in the Power of Positive Affirmations

The power of positive talk has proven to increases positive emotion, compassion, and confidence in the speaker. How we treat ourselves determines the outcome. If you begin the day with negativity, you are likely to attract negativity and problems to yourself.

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However, if you take your time to affirm positive thoughts in your life, you will succeed. Affirmations are more than mere words; they are meant to awaken the optimistic and daring part of your being.

So, when you feel that negative emotions are building up or images are flashing before your eyes, take a moment and remind yourself of your capabilities and believe it, too. What you perceive is what you are.

10. Getting Enough Sleep

Let’s be honest, it is almost impossible to get 8 hours of sleep as recommended, but you can get a good night’s sleep instead. Many people sleep for 8 hours or more but are restless in their sleep and wake up feeling exhausted, drained, and stressed.

Sleep is a fundamental way for the body to recuperate for the day’s activities. However, your sleeping condition should be prioritized for relaxing sleep. To do this, ensure your mattress is comfortable and your bedroom is at the right temperature.

If you cannot get 8 hours at night, try to nap in the afternoons and watch your diet before bed. Finally, create a sleep routine. You do not have to “do-or-die” it, but gradually ease your way into better sleep.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, stress is the baggage you refuse to let go of. The more you pile on, the deeper you are sinking into a place of darkness.

Let go of the excess load now. Start by following these stress management techniques on how not to stress. Do you have one or two methods you are currently using to relieve stress? Feel free to add them to the list.

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Reference

[1] American Psychological Association: Stress in America™ 2020

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