Stress & the Strain on Your Health
When stressed, your body goes into "fight or flight" mode. This stress response is meant to protect you in dangerous situations, but it takes a toll on your body when it's constantly activated. Keep reading to learn how stress affects your physical and mental health and ways to reduce stress.
Physical Effects of Stress
According to the American Psychological Association, stress is linked to six major health problems: heart disease, diabetes, depression, obesity, asthma, and headaches. Stress can also worsen conditions such as arthritis, psoriasis, and eczema.
Stress & Mental Health
In today's world, stress might come from work deadlines, financial worries, or family drama. But regardless of the source, stress can take a toll on your mental health. Stress can cause anxiety and depression, leading to more serious mental health conditions. Some common signs of stress include feeling overwhelmed, irritable, anxious, or depressed.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by stress, there are things you can do to manage it, including:
Identify Your Stressors
Keep a journal for a week to help you identify what is causing your stress. Include the date, time, and circumstances of each stressful event and how you felt both physically and emotionally.
Avoid Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
Some people turn to alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs when stressed. While these may provide temporary relief, they ultimately make stress worse by damaging your health.
Calming your mind can also help relax your body. Many different relaxation techniques can help reduce stress, such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga.
Connect With Loved Ones
Spending time with loved ones can help reduce stress and promote positive emotions. Whether you stay in touch via text, social media, or in person, quality time with those you care about is crucial for maintaining your mental health.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for good health and well-being. When you're stressed, your body needs more rest to recover. Make sure you get enough sleep each night to help reduce stress levels.
Live a Healthy Lifestyle
Eating a balanced diet and exercising frequently helps your body cope with stress more effectively. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein in your diet to help improve your overall health and reduce stress, and try to move often — even if it's a short walk.
When you're feeling overwhelmed, take a few minutes to yourself to relax and rejuvenate. Step away from work, take a hot bath, or read your favorite book. Taking breaks will help you stay calm and focused when stress levels are high.
Seek Professional Help
If you're struggling to cope with stress alone, don't be afraid to seek professional help. A therapist can teach you healthy coping mechanisms and help you manage stress more productively.