Let´s face it. The world we live in today can be very stressful. Fast-paced lifestyles are the norm as you juggle job and family obligations, along with many other responsibilities and daily tasks.
Stress is a normal part of life, and not all stress is bad for you, like eustress. Read more about our article here, but chronic stress is not.
There are healthy ways to combat stress and successfully overcome it through stress management. What is stress management, and does it even work? Find out about it here in this post.
What is stress?
One can describe stress as a state of emotional, mental, physical, and psychological strain to unfavorable conditions. Stress is your body´s response to anything that requires action or attention. In stressful situations, your body responds by releasing hormones that trigger the ‘fight or flight’ response. An increase of cortisol enters your bloodstream, which suppresses the functions of the immune, digestive, and reproductive systems.
In simpler terms, this means the body´s normal functions are on temporary lockdown, so to speak because the primary focus is on dealing with the immediate threat (stress).
Some causes of stress are:
- financial insecurities/problems/difficulties
- job security worry
- high workload
- fear of mass shootings
Chronic stress harms every organ and system of the body.
83% of Americans say they experience work-related stress.
The state with the least amount of stress is Montana.
Stress and depression may lead to physical decline.
Frustration, irritability, and moodiness are some of the most common symptoms of stress.
WHO recognizes burnout as a chronic condition.
35% of parents from single-family homes have high-stress levels.
Adults over 70 have the lowest stress levels.
It costs the global economy around $1 trillion in lost productivity due to stress-related illness/leaves.
Negative feelings about your physical appearance can cause significant stress for some individuals.
The dangers of chronic stress and why it is a problem
In stressful situations; your body can get you out with its built-in fight or flight system. However, chronic stress is a real issue that is on the rise. It is a condition of your body being in a constant state of stress even though; there are no stress triggers present.
In a normal stress fight or flight response, your body gets a signal to resume activities as usual as the threat is over. However, in chronic stress, your body never gets this signal and thus, remains in a state of stress. Stress hormone levels increase, and inflammation occurs.
This increase in stress hormones can wreak havoc on your internal organs and systems, such as:
- weaken immune system
- digestive disorder
- sleep disorders
- may increase your chances of having asthma symptoms
- may increase the risk of depression
- may cause muscle tension
- may increase the risk of anxiety
The human body cannot be in a constant state of stress. It was not designed for chronic stress.
What is stress management?
Stress management involves techniques or strategies that positively deal with stress and lowers the negative effects of stress on your emotional, physical, and mental well-being.
Why is stress management important?
The main goal of stress management is to bring your body back to the oasis of peace and serenity. Stress management techniques can affect physical, social, mental, and environmental aspects.
The answer to stress is a relaxation response. Relaxation does wonders for your body; it slows down your heart rate and reduces blood pressure, oxygen consumption, and the presence of stress hormones, among other things.
Constant stress can:
- cause your relationships to deteriorate
- cause you to take out your anger and frustrations on a loved one (there are always casualties on the stress battlegrounds)
- cause you to withdraw
- can cause mood swings
- cause symptoms of pain in your body
- can increase your risk of anxiety or depression.
Healthy lifestyle choices can help decrease your stress levels and elevate your quality of life.
Typically, stress hormones cause people to crave sugars; to fight this change your diet to a healthier one, full of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Healthy meals keep your mood and energy levels constant without extreme spikes (highs and lows).
Being physically active improves and maintains your health. Exercises that calm and relax your mind can support your mental health. The list of positive outcomes from managing your stress is plentiful and can go on and on.
Some simple stress-management recommendations
- develop positive habits (walk or run regularly)
- engage in communication with family (especially at the dinner table)
- listening to music
- watching a movie
- doing crossword puzzles
- taking a long relaxing bath
- engage in hobbies (knitting, gardening, refurbishing a car, etc)
- eat healthy balanced meals
We live in stressful times, and stress is a normal part of life, but sometimes if you do not deal with stress accordingly, normal stress can go into chronic stress. Continual chronic stress is dangerous to your physical, emotional, mental, and psychological health.
However, there is a way to overcome stress effectively through stress management. Stress management offers numerous ways to relax and overcome stressors. Managing stress successfully can open the door to a more balanced, healthier, and happier life.
Do not let stress get the better of you. If stress and anxiety linger or you have difficulty coping, it may be time to speak to a professional.
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