Stress is defined by Merriam Webster as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
Stress when left unchecked can lead to many problems that are harmful to your body. According to the Mayo Clinic, “stress symptoms cannot only affect your body, but also your thoughts, feelings, and your behavior. But being able to recognize common stress symptoms can help you manage them therefore minimizing or eliminating any potential stress related issues that may lead to health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and, in some cases, diabetes.”
Here are common effects of stress on your body, mood, and behavior according to the Mayo Clinic:
Common effects of stress on your body
Muscle tension or pain
Change in sex drive
Common effects of stress on your mood
Lack of motivation or focus
Irritability or anger
Sadness or depression
Common effects of stress on your behavior
Overeating or undereating
Drug or alcohol abuse
Exercising less often
If you notice these effects then you may be stressed which may cause unnecessary harm to your body.
Here are some ways to minimize the effects of stress:
1. Talk to someone.
Talking to someone about your feelings can be helpful; it can assist you in releasing pent-up tension and anxiety or help you become distracted from the stressful thoughts that are intruding your mind.
Often stress clouds your judgement and prevents you from seeing things clearly. But by discussing things with your peers – friends, coworkers, or even a therapist – you can find solutions to minimize your stress and put your issues into perspective.
2. Learn to say no.
Helping others is sometimes good and can sometimes help with stress. But when you start becoming a yes man or woman – saying yes to situations just to avoid rejection and loneliness despite its harm to your life – it can be bad. Our time is limited; when you have much to do but little time, you become frantic. And by adding additional responsibilities not necessary to your wellbeing, you can further limit your you time.
By learning to say “NO” to additional or unimportant requests it can help to reduce your level of stress.
3. Engage in physical activity.
Stressful situations increase the level of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in your body.
These hormones are attributed to “fight or flight”, but in the modern age it is rarely needed. It can be remedied by physical exercise which can can be used as a surrogate to metabolize the excessive stress hormones therefore restoring your body and mind to a calmer and a more relaxed state.
But you may say you don’t have enough time, well, yes you do, you just have to prioritize your time. When you feel stressed and tense, go for a brisk walk in fresh air. Attempt to incorporate some regular physical activity into your daily routine on a regular basis, either before or after work, or at lunchtime. Regular physical activity will help improve the quality of your sleep.
4. Get more sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should average 7-9 hours of sleep per night. But the downside with stress is that it often interrupts your sleep cycle.
But you can remedy this through an increase in physical activity and by creating sleeping environment that encourages your body to fall asleep and limits reminders of your stress.
Furthermore, avoid caffeine prior to your scheduled sleep, along with alcohol if it leads to disturbed nights of sleep. Prevent yourself from doing any mentally demanding work several hours before going to bed so your brain has time to reach a state of calmness. Reading books, and taking a warm bath may also help.
Aim to go to bed at roughly the same time each day so that your mind and body get used to a predictable bedtime routine.
Crying has many benefits, such as relieving stress, lowering blood pressure, removing toxins, and lowering manganese levels which are all contributors to stress.
6. Try relaxation techniques.
There are many relaxation techniques that lead to a reduction in stress, such as mediation, exercising, decompressing, etc.
7. Eliminate or minimize the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and/or caffeine.
Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and therefore will increase your level of stress rather than reduce it for many people.
Additionally, alcohol is a depressant when taken in large quantities, but acts as a form of stimulant in smaller quantities.
Therefore using tobacco, alcohol, or caffeine to reduce stress isn’t helpful. Alternatives that work instead includes green tea, water, or natural juices.
8. Attempt to identify causes of your stress.
Just like talking with your peers, keeping a stress diary can help you pinpoint the causes of your stress which can then help you find ways to avoid the causes. In some cases, you may even be able to gain a different perspective on your situation.
Jot down the date, time, and place of each incidences of stressful episodes. Note who you were with, what you were doing, and how your felt psychologically and physically during a given stressful event. Then give the stressful episode a rating from 1-10 (10 being the most stressful, 1 being the least stressful).
Your stress diary should help you to understand what triggers your stress and effective you become over time in handling your stressful situations as time passes. Documentation further allows you to potentially avoid stressful situations and develop better coping mechanisms.
9. Improve on your time management skills.
Your time is very limited and sometimes we feel overwhelmed when so many different tasks and favors are vying for our attention. Learn to prioritize on your tasks. Determine which tasks will help you in your current situation and accept that you can’t do everything at once.
10. If you become ill, rest up.
Sometimes no matter what you do, you may end up ill from many different factors including from stress. When that occurs, don’t try to push through it. Learn that resting will enable the body to recover faster and get you back to enjoying what you like the most.
Stress is never pleasant, but when you become better at recognizing causes of your stress early on you can take the steps necessary to minimize the ill-effects it may have on your body. Unchecked stress is harmful in many situations. So always be ready to combat it.
Hopefully you found this article helpful. Share with your friends and family and let’s try to limit the ill-effects of stress that many of us endure – pyschologically and/or physically.