When we are young, we can often over due it and get away with it. As we age, there seems to be less margin for error. So it’s important not to let stress get out of hand and have a negative effect on your health, as well as on your quality of life.
To protect yourself, you should identify your sources of stress, then take action to eliminate, reduce or deal with them – stress management. The goal is to create a physical and emotional balance that leads to a sense of calmness and control. Easier said than done. The formula to do this is very personal, varying from person to person.
In our society, the source of stress may actually be self-created. We take on too much, worry unnecessarily, feel a need to be perfect and try to keep up with the Jones’. In these situations, stress management is all about changing habits that are not in your own best interest.
The human body lets you know that stress levels are climbing…or not subsiding. However, it is quite common for people not to pay attention to these warnings due to choice, ignorance and/or necessity. When this happens, the body increases the frequency and/or intensity of its warnings.
The constant release of stress response hormones lead to alerts that come in the form of changes within key systems of the body.
- Digestive – Suffer from a queasy stomach due to a slower release of stomach acid and a slower emptying of the stomach, or diarrhea due to colon stimulation.
- Nervous – Struggle with bouts of anxiety, feelings of doom or helplessness.
- Cardiovascular – Have an increase in blood pressure, cholesterol and/or triglycerides, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
- Immune – Get more colds and infections.
There are many things you can do to cope with chronic stress. Here are some things to consider.
- Have A Plan – Many times stress is the result of actions that become habit. You need a plan to become conscious of these stressful habits and to change them.
- Breath – When dealing with stressful situations, slowly take deep breaths through your nose, hold for five seconds and release though your mouth. Practicing meditation or yoga take breathing to an even higher level.
- Exercise – Release muscle tension by moving and stretching.
- Be Realistic – When there is too much to do, you may have to politely say “no.”
- Reach Out – Blow off steam to a good friend or meet with a licensed professional counselor. It’s helpful to share your feelings with someone else.
(Sources: HelpStartsHere.org, MentalHealthAmerica.net)