words Al Woods
It is no secret that stress is a singular part of life, and our stress response is a survival mechanism that allows us to properly respond to these threats. There are of course some stressful situations which can actually be positive. Think of a time when you had to make a speech in front of a crowd and it was an incredible success. Was the experience stressful? Absolutely! However, it was also quite rewarding and satisfying in its own way.
When there are times when a stressful situation can not be avoided such as a medical crisis or work-related problems, this experience can become chronic. In such cases, this is the biological response in which stress has the ability to impair our mental and physical health.
Thankfully, there are numerous tools which allow you to combat stress in a healthier way. Some of these methods will recommend that you:
It is always best to avoid stressors as much as possible. Regardless of whether you will or will not experience various levels of psychological stress will depend upon the severity of the situation as well as the person who is experiencing it. How you consider a specific stressor is going to have a huge impact on how you are going to respond to it. Of course, it is not always going to be possible to avoid stressful situations, however, you will be able to lower the amount of stress you are feeling. For example, certain situations are inevitable such as moving house.
Take the stress out of selling with a cash house buyer. Consider if you are able to change the situation that is causing you stress, maybe you can relax your standards or drop some of the responsibility. It is always important to cultivate strong social support in your personal and work life. You will find that having a strong support of friends, family, and co-workers can be good to have when you just need someone to listen. Or you may want to have those individuals who are better at offering practical help such as helping with child care or just bringing over a home-cooked meal. Offering support also has the ability to decrease negative emotions while helping to increase positive emotions. However, it is essential to ensure that your relationships stay balanced. Having a friend who always requires emotional support, but is never able to offer it in return is going to increase your own stress levels.
When one is confronted with stressful situations, the central nervous system will release cortisol and adrenaline which has the ability to negatively affect the digestive tract and other physiological changes. Acute stress has the ability to destroy an individual’s appetite, however, the release of the hormone cortisol during stressful situations can lead to sugar and fat cravings. Research has shown that high cortisol in addition to high sugar consumption can lead to high amounts of fat around various internal organs, which is often associated with metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Having a diet more energy that is full of various nutrients will allow for not only better health but ensures you will be able to deal with challenges you face. There is no need to completely alter your diet or give up everything you love, just try to consume healthier doses of fruits and vegetables as part of your daily diet. You always want to try and avoid substances that are going to alter your stress responses as these are not going to work to resolve the root of the problem and simply act to cover up your true feelings.
Due to the fact that stress has the ability to cause tense muscles, it is much more possible to end up with stress induced headaches and general fatigue. Additionally, one may consider progressive muscle relaxation which is a method that has been shown to reduce anxiety as well as improve an individual’s mental health. In order to perform progressive muscle relaxation, it is best to get into a comfortable position and focus on a specific group of muscles, such as the lower leg muscles. Begin by inhaling and contracting the muscles for at least 5 to 10 seconds, then slowly exhale and release the muscles suddenly. Relax for at least 10 seconds or more and move to the very next group of muscles. Another excellent option is passive progressive muscle relaxation. This is a similar technique to progressive muscle relaxation; however, it bypasses the tensing step. During this procedure, consider each muscle group individually and focus on relaxing that part of the body.
Much research has shown that mindful meditation has the ability to reduce psychological anxiety and stress. It is even possible for short time mindfulness meditation can have a great affect on the individual. It is important to focus on the present time, if your mind begins to stray, you need to let those thoughts release. You never want to judge yourself for allowing your thoughts to waiver. Take the time to refocus your thoughts and bring your mind back to the present moment.
The Importance of Sleep
The stress that you suffer throughout the daytime hours is going to follow you through to the sleeping hours. Additionally, when you lose sleep, it will affect your daily mood and cognitive state. It is best to have a regular sleep schedule that allows you the opportunity to wind down before falling asleep. If you are suffering from insomnia, relaxation and meditation tend to help as well. You should also try to avoid alcohol and caffeine during the afternoon and evening hours. All of the screens in your bedroom should be turned down as the blue light has the ability to suppress melatonin.
Finally, it is best to try and move around as much as possible throughout the day as this tends to help improve the quality of sleep and decrease levels of stress. In one study in particular, individuals who participated in some form of physical activity on a daily basis, had about half the levels of stress as individuals who did not participate in physical activity. Physical activity seems able to cancel out many of the negative effects of stress, including the impact stress has on the immune system. There is no need for expensive equipment or memberships, in fact a simple walk around the block is all you really need. Additionally, try to find the time to get back to nature. Countless studies have shown that green areas have a way to improve one’s mood. You may even want to watch a nature video to relax while at your desk. Nature has a way to help you refocus and calm your mind and body. If you find that the daily grind of life is becoming overwhelming, take the time to enjoy the things you love the most. When you cut yourself off from pleasure and happiness, it tends to be counterproductive. Even if you feel as though you are constrained by time, it is important to focus on things that you enjoy. This could be as something as simple as reading a book or spending the night in bed watching your favourite show. Laughter and fun are essential for both your physical and mental health.
Rethink Your Thinking
One of the most popular types of research supported treatments in terms of anxiety and stress is cognitive behavioural therapy also known as CBT. This form of therapy is designed to understand that our individual thoughts will influence our emotions which lead to the influence of behaviour. By reframing your thoughts around a stressor will help you to manage your emotions and be able to reduce your particular feelings of stress. If you feel as though your life is spiralling out of control, you want to stop that level of thinking and place your mind elsewhere. It is important that you set realistic expectations for yourself. Understand that there will be areas that are simply outside of your control and you will need to seek out help. If you feel as though you are becoming overwhelmed and self-help is not an option, look to a certified therapist or other mental health professional to help you learn to manage your stress effectively. They will be able to identify key behaviours or situations that are creating the levels of stress you are feeling and help to develop a plan of action that will change the stressors and your responses.