Can you remember a time in your life where you experienced no stress? Probably not and especially not recently.
We live in a society that seems to thrive off stress. From doom-mongering news to 24-hour emailing and the endless worry about health and wealth, it's no surprise that Americans are some of the world's most stressed-out people.
But stress doesn't have to be a daily companion. If you're wondering how to reduce stress naturally then know that it is possible. When you understand what stress is and what causes it in your life, you can take steps to manage and reduce it.
Would you like to see your stress go out the window and leave you alone? Can you imagine going about your day without feeling stressed out and longing for your bed?
Well keep reading, because I'm going to show you what stress is and how you can take control of it so it doesn't control you.
Wait, What Even Is Stress?
We all know what it feels like but knowing what it actually is will help you to understand why it's happening.
Stress is a natural and important response in your body that's evolved to help you deal with dangerous situations. When your brain thinks you're in danger, it releases cortisol and adrenaline to help out.
These chemicals raise your heart rate, give you greater focus, and even give you more strength. All of these things would help you problem-solve and act when faced with danger. Pretty cool right?
It is supposed to be a temporary response to a specific situation, like grabbing your dog out of the path of a car or escaping from a wild animal. But in our modern society, the response is active too much of the time. This is chronic stress and instead of being helpful, it's outright bad for our health.
How Does It Affect Your Health?
As the stress response is designed to get you out of dangerous situations, your body focuses its energy in places like your muscles, pausing everything else. When we're stressed for long periods, our bodies can't function properly because they're always focused on the grizzly bear our brain is expecting.
Long term stress has huge negative effects on your health. These might be digestive problems, difficulty sleeping, suppression of your immune system, and even increasing your risk of heart disease.
The longer you're stressed for, the more it impacts all of your physical and emotional health.
Chronic stress is clearly bad news which is why it's so important that you identify the sources and how to reduce it.
How to Identify Sources
By making a note of when you become stressed, you have more information to work with. Try keeping a diary for a week or two and jot down anything that is causing you stress.
By the end, you might be able to see patterns emerge of specific stressors. Once you've identified these, you can work to change them or change the way you view them.
For instance, if the traffic on the way to pick your kids up causes you a lot of stress, try to reframe that situation. You can't change the traffic but you can instead see it as your own personal time. You could use the time to listen to a podcast or your favorite music.
Before long, that traffic isn't stressful, it gives you much-needed time to yourself.
Create a Plan to Manage Stress
For most of us, some level of stress is unavoidable at times. Life is unpredictable after all. But the way you live your life can not only reduce it, but it can make it much easier to deal with when it does arise.
Moving your body can play a big role in reducing stress. Exercise releases endorphins which naturally make you feel good, reduce pain, and help you sleep later on.
Exercise also helps to focus your mind and be more aware of your surroundings and in the present. You don't have to force yourself into a gym if you don't want to though, all sorts of things are exercise.
Meeting friends for a fun game of tennis, going for a run, or taking a trip to the swimming pool will all boost those endorphins. When you exercise you'll also be getting fitter and healthier. Being healthy reduces your risk of illness and if there's one stressful thing, it's getting sick.
Unhealthy foods make us feel sluggish and stop us from thinking clearly. When we want to nap and have foggy heads, it's all too easy to become irritable and stressed out with our tasks.
Being mindful of what you eat can help reduce stress dramatically. When you eat right, your body and brain will have the energy they need to deal with everything you encounter.
Workplace chaos and stressed-out managers mean we face a lot of stressful situations the moment we walk into the office. And we're already stressed thinking about going to work.
Work stress needs to be managed proactively for the good of your health. That might mean delegating more, asking for help or even changing your job. This can be the hardest part of your life to change but when you enjoy your work, your stress will be dramatically reduced.
No matter what's going on in your life, making time to relax is so important for your health. Whether it's having a bath and reading a book or doing a yoga session with candles and music, make this time a priority.
Taking time to relax re-centers your mind and body and helps you sleep. Good quality sleep is another essential way to reduce it.
Stop Being a Slave to Stress
You can take back your life from stress and stop being its slave. By identifying its causes, you'll be able to think about how you can change them.
You should also take the time to live mindfully, making sure you find an exercise you enjoy and eat healthy foods. These things keep you healthy and strong, both mentally and physically. When you're healthy, stress is much easier to deal with.
And of course, make time to relax. Really! relax. Turn off that phone and do whatever it is that quiets your mind and makes your muscles release.
Follow me on social to get more tips about living in a balanced way and check out this article on listening to your body. Because listening to your body can be a great way of knowing when stress is around.
Julie , Ray. "Americans' Stress, Worry and Anger Intensified in 2018." GALLUP, 25 Apr. 2019, https://news.gallup.com/poll/249098/americans-stress-worry-anger-intensified-2018.aspx
- McLeod, Saul. "Stress, Illness and the Immune System."
SimplyPsychology, 2010, https://www.simplypsychology.org/stress-immune.html
- Lipman, Victor. "Workplace Trend: Stress Is On The Rise." Forbes, 9 Jan. 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2019/01/09/workplace-trend-stress-is-on-the-rise/#6ddc8d6b6e1b
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