Stress is the 21st Century condition that afflicts us all to some degree in our lives.
While nobody wants to feel the sharp edge of stress, it is worth remembering that not all types of stress are necessarily bad.
In fact, if we do not have some stress in our day-to-day we would lead unhappy, uneventful lives.
The important factor is knowing when the stress you are feeling is normal and manageable, and when it is detrimental to your health.
Good stress, or what psychologists refer to as ‘eustress’, is a type of stress we feel when we are excited. Our hormones surge and our pulse quickens but there is no threat or fear – like when you are on a rollercoaster.
Eustress is a form of acute or short-term stress which can be a mix of bad and good. Eustress shouldn’t take a heavy toll if we have coping mechanisms ready to deal with it.
However, stress becomes a problem when we repeatedly face it and it starts to take its toll, this is known as ‘chronic stress’ and is detrimental to our mental and physical health.
When it comes to dealing with stress it is important to differentiate between what is something that is short-term and manageable, and what is actually making your health decline.
For example, if you have the goal of getting stronger, stress is needed for the muscles to grow and adapt, however too much would be detrimental.
Think of it as a balancing act between stress, together with rest and recovery.
Chronic long-term stress that persists for weeks, months or years can weaken the immune system and can lead to many health problems such as high blood pressure, fatigue, depression, anxiety and even heart disease.
Although we cannot eradicate stress completely, there are several different ways to care for yourself so you can be your best self for others.
Here are 10 tips which are easy to implement into your daily life:
- Eat nutritious foods to ensure your body is getting all the vital nutrients it needs to thrive.
- Exercise regularly – Weight training in particular has been shown to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Plan and prioritise your day to avoid any undue stress from feeling out of control or overwhelmed.
- Switch off – Taking time away from work, social media and the news will help you unwind and refresh.
- Reduce other stressors – Caffeine, alcohol and smoking are all notorious for adding undue stress to the body. Limiting these are recommended.
- Ensure quality sleep – Sleep is vital for our daily functioning, so ensure you are getting quality sleep by sticking to a good sleep schedule. Stay off your phone and devices before bed to reduce blue-light exposure and darken your room.
- Take some time to yourself – Doing things that you enjoy and taking “me time” is important in helping reduce feelings of stress.
- Strong social support – It is important to have people around you who care and can provide you with much-needed support. They can help you talk out and share any problems you are holding onto which may be triggering stress.
- Mindfulness and relaxation – Research shows that engaging in relaxation techniques, such as meditation, regularly can help you control stress and anxiety. Mindful breathing exercises can help lower blood pressure, relieve insomnia and improve your focus – all beneficial to helping you to make clearer and well-thought-out decisions during stressful situations.
- Identify your triggers and write them down – Do you know what causes you stress? Once you identify the situations and things that are adding anxiety to your day, you can then look at implementing different coping mechanisms.
Self care isn’t selfish, it’s survival. It plays a key role in preventing burnout and being more productive and positive in your day.
Many of us have so many responsibilities and priorities in life that it is hard to find or justify making time for ourselves. The truth is, we are all less able to handle the stressors that life throws at us when we are depleted physically and emotionally, because how can you pour from an empty cup?
A certain amount of stress is a normal part of life and in some cases, is key for our survival, but too much stress can be detrimental.
The first step in tackling stress is to identify those stressors which are affecting our health mentally and physically and then looking at ways in which we can reduce them.
We cannot completely eliminate sources of stress from our lives, but we can better manage them with certain tools and lifestyle changes.
Remember, if you do think you are suffering from stress, always seek advice from your doctor.
If you want to know all the ins and outs of stress, stress management, as well as supplementation to help minimise stress, read Stress: The Silent Killer.