This Content Is Only For Subscribers
Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Everyone experiences stress from time to time, and it can have both positive and negative effects. Stress can help you stay focused and motivated, but it can also lead to physical and mental health problems if it becomes too severe or is left unmanaged. Learning to recognize and manage your stress is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Stress is a normal physical and mental reaction to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “stress response.”
The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident.
The stress response also helps you rise to meet challenges. It’s what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching TV. But beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.
Stress can be caused by both external factors, such as the pressure of a deadline or a difficult situation at work, and internal factors, such as worry and negative thinking. Everyone responds to stress differently, so what causes stress for one person may not cause stress for another.
Major life changes
Work or school
Being too busy
Inability to accept uncertainty
The signs of stress can vary from person to person, but some common signs may include: feeling overwhelmed, irritability, difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, changes in appetite or weight, headaches, chest pain, and feeling constantly on edge.
The key to managing stress is to recognize warning signs and take action before it spirals out of control. Here are some tips for managing stress:
1. Exercise regularly. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and release tension. Exercise helps to balance hormones, boost mood, and reduce stress. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
2. Take time for yourself. Make sure to set aside time each day to do something that you enjoy. Make time for yourself throughout the day. Even a few minutes of quiet time can help you regroup and recharge.
3. Eat healthy. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help you feel better, both physically and mentally. Eating a balanced diet can help reduce stress levels. Foods with B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium can help reduce stress.
4. Get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep can make you feel stressed and anxious. Getting enough quality sleep is a key component to managing stress. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
5. Talk to someone. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to friends, family, or a counselor. Reach out to a friend or family member when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Talking to someone can help you process your thoughts and feelings.
6. Learn to relax. Taking time to relax can help you manage your stress levels. Try activities like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, journaling, or progressive muscle relaxation to help manage stress.
Remember, stress is a normal part of life and it can be managed. The key is to recognize the warning signs and take action before it spirals out of control. With the right tools, you can reduce your stress and live a happier, healthier life.