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. 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.
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2 Types of 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.
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 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.
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.
This may lead to physical signs and symptoms, such as:
- Upset stomach
- Sleeping problems
- Elevated blood pressure
- Sexual dysfunction
- Chest pain
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
Stress can also cause a number of mental health problems:
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.
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.
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.
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. 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 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.
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.
To start, let’s incorporate these healthy practices in our routine to deal with emotional and physical stress we go through.
Whenever one is feeling anxious or stressed, it is very hard to laugh. It is a good remedy to relieve stress. 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.
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
- Black Tea
- Raw Veggies
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.
6. Drink Milk
Milk is a stress reliever, especially when a warm glass of milk is drunk before bedtime. 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 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. Similarly, you can pursue hobbies like playing outdoor games, walking pets, dancing, etc.
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:
- Roman Rose
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.
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.
Featured photo credit: Jamie Brown via unsplash.com