Stress. They say stress is the new cigarette. It’s lethal if it’s not controlled. Stress is a funny thing because a lot of the time it’s unavoidable. We all have busy, stressful lives, families, careers, financial obligations that put stress on us.
Perceived stress refers to your perception of situations in your life that appear stressful. Feelings of unpredictability in one’s life situation, feeling unable to manage everyday challenges and feeling that one’s problems keep piling up.
When our bodies are under constant stress, we begin to live in a chronic state of stress. Meaning we are consistently in fight or flight mode. Our adrenal glands are constantly pumping out cortisol leaving them exhausted and our bodies imbalanced. This throws off our hormones, our gut function and digestion, our sleep, and even our mental state is affected. We have an increase in adverse thoughts, anxiety, and depression. We know everything in our body is related. If you’ve ever experienced upset bowels from being stressed then you know what I mean!
Stress also has an immune component and can cause inflammation in the body, which is the trigger to many diseases. Weight gain is also related to stress as the body holds onto fat because it thinks it will need fuel to fight the next stressor!
Stress is unavoidable and some of it is good.
It motivates us to take action and move swiftly, but if it becomes excessive and not properly managed it can have profound effects on our health, especially if this occurs for 10, 20, 30 years.
The key to stress is understanding that it is a normal part of life, but you hold the power to control it.
The following tips will help you to tap into the mind-body connection required to consistently practice stress management:
- Practice mindfulness meditation: Sit quietly for at least 10 minutes, daily.
- Electronics curfew: End all screen time at least one hour before bed.
- Get a good night’s sleep: Aim to go to bed before 11pm and get 7-8 hours of sleep.
- Practice saying “no” or “not now”: Learn how to prioritize and create healthy boundaries.
- Take a pause: Pausing even a few moments before making decisions can make a big difference.
- Ask for help: Perfectionism can be addictive and is draining and inefficient in the long run.
- Learn a new skill: Learning something new teaches the brain a new pathway to handle change.
- Exercise: Physical activity helps improve neuroplasticity, in addition to all its other benefits.
- Social Interaction: Spending time with friends in a social environment can help to reduce stress on the brain.
The takeaway, stress is unavoidable.
But letting it control your life and affect your health is avoidable. Try to implement 1-2 techniques for managing your stress and make them a part of your daily commitment to your health.