Stress—we have all experienced it before. Between work, family life, money, health and other important responsibilities, experiencing stress is ultimately inevitable. When you do experience stress, it is important to know how to manage it, in order to prevent your stress levels from increasing uncontrollably. This is because repetitive stress can seriously harm your health and wellbeing. Keep reading to learn more about stress, its effects on your body, and how to manage your stress levels.
What is stress?
You know that horrible feeling when you are running late for an important meeting or are balancing too many responsibilities at a time? That's stress!
Stress is triggered by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. In stressful situations, the hypothalamus releases stress hormones into the body, beginning the body's fight or flight response. Stress hormones cause a physical response in the body which is supposed to help you act quickly in a dangerous situation.
While small levels of stress can be beneficial—for example, small levels of stress help to engage focus—persisting levels can be very harmful to both your mental and physical health.
How does stress impact your health?
While stress is an inevitable part of life, stress hormones can be seriously damaging to your health if they remains elevated in the body for long periods of time. For example, chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms including irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches and insomnia.
Stress affects many important processes in our bodies throughout our central nervous system, endocrine system, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, digestive system, muscular system, reproductive system and immune system.
Stress visibly impacts these vital systems by elevating your heart rate, inducing behaviors such as over or under eating / drinking, increasing blood pressure, or causing indigestion, muscle pain, irregular periods or decreased testosterone levels. Chronic stress also weakens the immune systems over time, making you more susceptible to colds, the flu, and other viral illnesses.
It is important to learn how to manage your stress levels to protect your physical and mental health. Keep reading for tips on how to combat stress when you feel it.
How to Manage Stress Levels
Learning how to manage and cope with stress hormones is essential to help you keep your stress levels under control. Here are ten ways to manage stress in your life:
1. Exercise: exercise routinely throughout the week while also taking rest days. Developing an exercise routine that works for you will help you to reduce and cope with stress.
2. Relax your muscles: stretching, taking a hot bath and getting a good night's sleep are all good ways to relax your muscles and release muscle tension.
3. Practice deep breathing: breathe deeply and slowly throughout the day, especially when experiencing symptoms of stress such as elevated heart rate.
4. Pay attention to your diet: certain foods such as caffeine and sugar can trigger symptoms of stress. Pay attention to what you eat and how it impacts your stress levels.
5. Slow down: life can be extremely busy, so take time to slow down, unplug and be without distractions.
6. Make time for breaks: when planning your schedule, afford time for breaks throughout your day.
7. Prioritize hobbies: remember to make time for your hobbies and try out new ones from time to time.
8. Talk about your emotions: instead of bottling up your feelings and emotions, talk to a friend, family member or therapist about them.
9. Practice self acceptance: practice self acceptance and positive affirmation daily. Identify negative thoughts/patterns of thinking and replace them with positive thoughts.
10. Eliminate negativity: cut out negativity in your life or minimize it to the best of your ability.
How do you manage your stress?
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