April is Stress Awareness Month? Yup – I didn’t know that either. Like me, were you all too busy to notice? Stress takes a major toll on your mind, body and soul. Let’s talk about why.
According to Merriam-Webster stress is “a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.; something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety; or a physical force or pressure.”
The stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, are released into the bloodstream when the body faces physical or mental stress. This could include physical danger (accident), anxiety, worries, bad memories, etc. These hormones do things like elevate blood pressure, increase sugars in the bloodstream and even alter immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. You can see why prolonged stress can be very bad for you!
Stress has been linked to many mental and physical ailments – headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, upset stomach, insomnia, depression, anxiety – even weight gain. (Prolonged stress can even lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.) Since NONE of that sounds like fun, let’s look at a few ways to reduce stress in your life.
There are more ways to reduce stress than you think.
Here are a few things to try. (Check out the article at the end of this post: 23 Scientifically-Backed Ways To Reduce Stress Right Now)
- Get some exercise and boost your endorphins Your body will thank you! When you exercise, your body is focused on the physical task at hand, not the many things on your mind. (Not to mention it can help you take those last few inches off of your waist!)
- Take a breather! Be it through meditation, taking a cat nap or a few minutes to read a book, or have a nice glass of herbal tea. Get your mind off of your stresses and lose yourself in the moment.
- Start a gratitude journal Nope, it’s not just for hippies!!! Take 10 minutes at the end of your day (or really at any point) and write down a few things that made you happy. Take it one step further and write down things you can do to make other people happy too! Act on it. Pay it forward. It will feel good and get you focused on good things, not the worries that have been hanging over your head.
- Reach out and hug someone Even though friends and family can contribute to our stress (you know you were thinking the same thing), they can also shoulder some of your burden, put things into perspective, and brainstorm ways to alleviate what’s bothering you. At the very least, they can give you a very big hug. (Click here for a great article on hugs!)
And, last but definitely not least, sometimes stress is too much for one person to take on and it’s time for professional help. Taking the time to talk it out with a professional can give you a truly objective way to look at what is causing you to stress out. They have no agenda other than to help you identify your problems and come up with ways to manage them.
Because our blog post wouldn’t be complete without it, here are a few articles to keep you reading…
Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior
Stress Myths: 9 Common Misconceptions About Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Chronic stress puts your health at risk
23 Scientifically-Backed Ways To Reduce Stress Right Now