Stress is something we face in our daily life. It can be brief and situational (tax season, traffic or finish a work project on time) or persistent and complex (relationship problems, illness in the family or the loss of a loved one). Life can get complicated sometimes, and you may feel tired, unable to concentrate or irritable; that’s the effect of stress.
Before we keep talking about stress, let’s see what it really is: Stress is the natural body’s reaction to any adjustment.
Think about this, have you ever found yourself with sweaty hands or felt your heart pound before giving a presentation or a job interview?
That’s your body responding to these adjustments or changes with a physical, mental or emotional response. Sometimes stress can be a positive force, motivating you to perform well in those happy events in your life like the arrival of a new baby, moving to a new city or getting a promotion!
You see, stress is not bad after all, it can have a positive effect on us and it could help us be more creative, alert and aware of our environment and keep us motivated.
When we constantly face stress without having a break and it starts interfering with your ability to live and enjoy life, it becomes dangerous, that’s when chronic stress begins. We become overworked and now the “fight or flight response” become activated over long periods of time and this causes wear and tear on the body and emotions.
Stress can disturb the body’s internal balance and lead to not just physical and emotional but also cognitive symptoms:
Aches and pains
Diarrhea or constipation
Loss of sex drive
Depression or general unhappiness
Moodiness, irritability or anger
Loneliness and isolation
Inability to concentrate
Anxious or racing thoughts
Stress is known to bring or worsen other symptoms or diseases and can also trigger compulsive use of substances or behaviors to try to relieve the stress.
How many times have you seen people turning to food looking for comfort, using alcohol or drugs, spending carelessly or just scrolling through social media for hours. Here are other symptoms to look out for:
Increase or lack of appetite
Sleeping too much or too little
Procrastinating and Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)
We have to work though it and here are some tips to do it graciously:
First, accept that you cannot control every event in your life.
Remember, everything is temporarily, whatever you’re going through, it will pass.
Try deep breathing, meditation, yoga or tai-chi.
If you face a stressful situation, find a place where you can be alone for a few minutes and focus on your breathing; do it slowly and deeply.
This will activate your parasympathetic nervous system, decreasing your blood pressure and lowering your blood pressure, helping you to think clearly.
Move your body, any activity is good! Try dancing, hiking, swimming. Choose a healthy lifestyle, preferable Whole Foods Plant-Based. Your body can fight stress better when it is in good physical condition.
Also, make time for hobbies and do something just for fun. Life is a long time to focus on working all the time.
This is the time when the body repairs itself, your brain forms pathways to help you learn and remember information. If you’re sleep deficient, you may have troubles making decisions, solving problems and controlling your emotions and behavior and coping with changes.
Also, learn to manage your time more effectively and say NO to requests that would create more stress in your life.
Spend more time with the people you love and laugh with them. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood and protects from the damaging effects of stress.
Learn to be assertive and communicate your feelings and opinions instead of becoming angry, defensive or passive.
Change is the only constant in life and your body will always adjust to these changes; the best way to protect your body and mind is by having self-care practices to help you to thrive in life.
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