What is Stress Really?
Stress is a much more complex reaction than we think. We feel stress when our body releases an excess amount of adrenaline and cortisol. The extra cortisol that our bodies release is actually meant to help relieve stress, while the adrenaline causes us to physically feel the stress. Therefore, knowing healthy ways to deal with stress can truly benefit your overall health.
Adrenaline causes our bodies to have an increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and altered metabolism, to name a few. This is why adrenaline and cortisol are known as the stress hormones.
Our bodies release extra stress hormones when we feel threatened. Specifically, we release hormones when we feel in danger. Another term for stress is a reaction called “fight or flight.” We will either react in such a way to fight out the threat, or to simply run away.
How you handle your threat will determine whether you are a “fight” kind of person or a “flight” kind of person. We are here to teach you how to be a “fight” kind of person!
How We Actually Depict Stress
Normally, we feel stressed over things much smaller than a life or death situation. Things like money, jobs, and time management cause us to feel stress most often.
This is because our nervous systems aren’t able to tell the difference between these small triggers and actual life threats. Basically, our bodies react the same to fear of not being able to pay a bill as it does to fear of dying.
The more we let stress affect us, the easier it becomes for us to become stressed over even smaller things in life. Learning both how to control our stress and how to not become stressed as often is an important key to living a healthy life.
Most Common Causes and Effects of Stress
According to the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory the top ten most stressful events are
- Death of spouse
- Marital separation from mate
- Detention in jail or other institution
- Death of a close family member
- Major personal injury or illness
- Being fired at work
- Marital reconciliation with mate
- Retirement from work
This list actually includes 43 total life events, all of which have been given a certain amount of points. If you add up all the points of each event that has occurred to you within the past year, you are able to see how susceptible you are to illness due to high levels of stress.
Unusually high levels of stress can seriously affect our health. Stress can weaken our immune system, cause issues in our reproductive and digestive systems, and cause us to have a heart attack or stroke.
Other, more common effects of stress are
- Sleep deprivation
- Skin conditions
- Weight gain/loss
- Memory problems
- Constant worrying
- Negative self-talk
- Attention deficits
The number one reason we believe people can’t control their stress levels is because they continuously fuel the fire. The constant self-doubt, worrying, and negative thinking just enhances your stress.
Managing your stress levels will not only protect you from certain illnesses, but will also allow you to live a happier, healthier life. Learning healthy ways on how you can deal with your stressors will be the best thing you do today.
Healthy Ways to Release Stress
The type of stress you are experiencing will determine how you deal with it. For instance, you will handle the loss of a family member differently than you would handle being too busy.
With stress come excess adrenaline. You need to try and release that adrenaline. One of the healthiest ways to do that is to exercise. Go for a run, walk your dog, do any type of physical activity and you should feel a release of pressure.
Getting some fresh air can help more than you think. Being able to take deep breaths in some fresh air can work as a form of meditation. This is a simple, yet effective way to release stress.
Make it a point in your day to relax. You may feel like you don’t have the time in the day to take a break, but if it benefits your health, you should make the time. Resting for even 5 minutes in your car or running home to take a 20-minute nap will make your overall day feel less stressful.
If you believe you just can’t find the time to rest during you day, try relaxing for a few minutes right before bed. Clear your mind so that it isn’t racing while trying to fall asleep. You can try reading a book or journalling too.
Can’t sleep due to your high levels of stress? Check out our 17 sleeping tips.
Find a Relaxing Hobby
Partaking in a relaxing activity can help distract your mind from the things that are causing your stress. Crochet, yoga, meditation, and puzzles are all examples of some things that might work as a relaxing hobby for you.
Perhaps the reason why your stressed is because you have poor time management skills. That’s okay, many of us deal with this same problem.
The first step to managing your time better is to set priorities. Some tasks should be on the top of list to get done, while others can be at the bottom. For instance, running important errands should take precedence over catching up on your favorite TV series.
Learn the Word “No”
A lot of people allow themselves to become stressed due to an overflowing work load. Sometimes the reason they have so many things on their plate is because they say yes to everybody that asks for their help.
If you train yourself to say no more often, you will be much better off. You won’t have to worry about letting them down when you find out you just don’t have time to help them.
Speak It Out
A healthy way to deal with stress in severe cases is seeking guidance from a therapist. If the stress is just too much for you and just can’t seem to get it under control, don’t be afraid to talk about it. Talking it out with someone, especially a professional, could greatly benefit you.
Visualize Being Calm
This one may sound strange to you, but it a good quick fix for when you feel the stress getting to be out of control. Visualize yourself on a beach or somewhere that calms you. You can also look at pictures or watch videos to help acquire that peaceful feeling.
Give Your Mind a Break
If you are always thinking about the thing that is causing your stress, you will just add to the problem. Give your mind a break and try not to think about all the things in your life that are stressful. Instead think about all the good things that you have going on and take a moment to give silent thanks for each of those things. Focusing on these things even for just a few minutes gives your brain a welcome break.
If you can’t help but think about your problems, at least be realistic about them. Don’t make up the worst possible, unrealistic scenarios. Negative self-talk is one of biggest ways to prolong stress. Try to stay optimistic, yet realistic. Our thoughts affect our feelings, so think positive!
Write It Down
This may not help everybody, but it might help you. If there are too many tasks on your plate, put them in list form so that you can check them off as you accomplish them. Having the satisfaction of checking a task off once it’s complete can make you feel much better. Keeping a journal or diary and writing down what’s bothering you can help as well
Stress Comes in Many Different Forms
Everybody gets stressed out about different things. Your friend may easily get stressed about having to be early to an event, while you couldn’t care less if you’re on time. One of the worst things your can do as a friend is make fun of them for getting stressed over something you think isn’t worth stressing over.
Stress can truly consume some people. Therefore, it is important that we take care of each other and help out when it’s needed. Before anyone can help you, you must help yourself. Figure out which of these healthy ways to deal with stress will work best for you and practice them daily. You won’t regret it.