In today’s modern and busy world, we are pulled in many directions all at once. Our responsibilities at home, work, and school sometimes become too much. Our bodies will start giving us a signal that stress is now affecting our lives. It is why stress management is important.
Stress is driven by the body’s instinct to defend itself in demanding situations. The instinct is good in certain emergencies, but it can cause unhealthy physical symptoms when not managed properly.
Stress is a normal body response that happens to everyone. In fact, our body is designed to experience and react to stress, with a “fight or flight response.” Sudden change and challenges can become stressors, causing our body to produce a physical and mental response. That is stress.
As mentioned, stress can be positive as it keeps us alert, motivated, and ready for danger. It helps the body work harder and stay awake longer. However, it becomes a problem when stressors continue for long periods without relief or relaxation.
When the body is under stress, it becomes tense and will experience changes in heart rate, breathing, vision, and more. Prolonged stress can cause wear and tear to the body and can cause behavioural symptoms to develop.
Symptoms of Stress
Stress can lead to emotional and mental symptoms, including:
- Anxiety or irritability
- Panic attacks
- Lack of motivation
- Feelings of sadness
Physical symptoms of stress may include chest pain, exhaustion, headaches, high blood pressure, muscle tension, digestive problems, and weak immune systems. It can also cause aches and pains in different parts of the body.
Watch out for these mental and physical signs of stress to know when you have it.
How to Manage Stress
You cannot avoid stress, but you can stop it from becoming worse. You can avoid it by practising the following stress management strategies:
Regular physical activity
Exercise when you feel symptoms of stress are becoming overwhelming. Even a short walk or run can do wonders for your mood.
Take good care of your body.
Eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep can help your body handle stress much better.
Practice relaxation techniques
Try relaxation techniques such as yoga, Taiichi, and breathing exercises. Most meditation programs are readily available online and at your local gyms and community centres.
Set realistic goals for the day, week, and even month. At the end of each day, take a moment and reflect on your own. Think about what you have accomplished, and do not focus on what you did not get done.
Spend time with family and friends
Being social and allotting time to spend time with your family and close friends is a good way to reduce stress. The emotional support from your loved ones enhances your psychological and mental well-being. You can share your problems instead of seeking negative coping mechanisms. These will prevent you from smoking, drinking alcohol, or using drugs.
Make time for hobbies.
Set aside time for things that you enjoy doing. Read a book, do some gardening, or listen to your favourite music.
Keep a positive outlook.
Maintain a positive outlook and practice gratitude. Acknowledge the many good parts of your day or life and accept that you cannot control everything. Let go of worrying about situations you cannot change.
Seek professional help
Consider talking to a therapist or a mental health professional about your worries.
To conclude, it is natural for us to experience stress sometimes. However, long-term stress can cause physical and mental symptoms, as well as unhealthy behaviours. Try stress management by using a few simple strategies mentioned above. If you feel that stress is becoming overwhelming, talk to your doctor.
Consider getting a Mental Health First Aid course to help yourself or anyone you know who is in mental distress.
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