Did you know that long-term stress can make us physically and emotionally ill?
When we get stressed-out our nervous system gets triggered, which in turn signals our breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure to speed up. As blood rushes to our muscles, we enter a “fight-or-flight response.” This response is useful as a survival instinct; however, this same physical stress, if continued over long periods of time, can be a major contributor to sleeping disorders, digestive issues, anxiety, diminished immunity, and so much more.
Stress is a ‘double edged sword.’ In fact, studies have shown that a little stress is very healthy. In some instances, acute stress (lasting minutes to hours) keeps us motivated, invigorated, and productive while, at the same time, stimulating our immune system. On the contrary, too much stress, that’s ongoing for duration of time (lasting several hours per day and ongoing for weeks to months), can become chronically harmful and lower our ability to fight off illness.
Stress is something we all need to deal with, although, not everyone is born with the same coping mechanisms. Each person interprets, processes, and perceives life’s events differently. Nevertheless, some situations or events may leave many of us feeling angry, frustrated or depressed.
Here are a few useful tools to help you cope with the stress in your life
- Don’t take on too much all at once- Manage your time by focusing on what’s most important to you. Then try breaking up the large projects into smaller manageable tasks. By accomplishing the small goals, you’ll build your confidence and feel better prepared to tackle the larger and more complicated endeavors.
- Unplug and take a vacation from technology-Don’t let technology rule every minute of your life. Cultivate your creative thinking by getting away from the fast pace of both your busy life and the internet. Sometimes when you take a step back and relax your body and mind, you can return to a situation with a clearer, refreshed, and renewed interpretation of what action you need to take.
- Be an Optimist- Not everyone is born with a cheerful disposition although; most of us can overcome a great deal of stress in our lives by becoming more optimistic. Optimism is a great habit that can become a learned behavior. By changing your response to a stressful situation, you can positively affect your emotional and physical well-being.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously- Learn to laugh the tension away. Laughter is no joke; it might possibly be the greatest prescription for stress. Studies have shown that laughter decreases stress hormones while increasing the release of ‘feel-good’ chemicals in the brain called endorphins.
- Take up Yoga- Laughter and yoga are like ‘two peas in a pod.’ While laughter clears your mind, yoga relaxes your body. As a mind-body discipline, yoga combines controlled breathing, meditation, and relaxation into an anxiety reducing practice. As you relax into the various poises, yoga helps to lower your blood pressure and heart rate, and thus aids in managing your stress.