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We all get stressed. Now let’s figure out what exactly stress is, what stress can do to us and ways to relieve stress.
10 Ways To Relieve Stress
Stress… that ugly 6 letter word that creeps up on too many of us so quickly. Who hasn’t had stress at some point during their day or week? We too often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of trying to make a living, pay the bills, chauffeur the kids, get that project done … that we too often forget to give ourselves the attention that we need. That is when we find ourselves exhausted, irritable, and even sick. I wanted to discuss stress more in-depth and share some ways to relieve stress. No one really enjoys being stressed, so let’s learn about stress, why it we get stressed, and discover some stress relievers.
What causes stress?
Maybe it’s not having enough money to pay your bills or you just don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done. Maybe your schedule is way overloaded, and you feel like you can’t deal with it.
In many situations, we bring the stress on ourselves without even knowing it. Stress can be created just because of our own perceptions. Did you ever get up one day and have a certain issue on something that you have been dealing with, and then the next day after a good night’s sleep, you suddenly resolve your problem or no longer even view it as a problem?
Attitude can play an extremely important role in anything that you are trying to tackle. You will always feel better and make more progress with what you’re working on with a positive attitude than a negative one. Having a negative attitude can actually cause you stress.
Everybody will have some form of stress in their lives at one time or another. You ought to know yourself pretty well by now, and when you think about it, you even know what sets off your stress level to a new high. Learn from it and deal with it directly. Don’t just ignore it and hope it will go away because it usually doesn’t. If something is bothering you, your mind will still keep stewing on it, and that’s not good for you mentally or physically.
So what exactly is stress?
Stress is defined as any physical, chemical, or emotional trigger that causes a bodily or mental response that can cause disease. The “fight or flight” response associated with stress occurs because of the sudden increase in adrenaline and cortisol in the bloodstream.
The “fight or flight” stress response is the body’s way of giving a warning that something (possibly dangerous) is going to happen.
Stress’ immediate response is to our body is:
- An increase in heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Release of fat into the bloodstream
- Redirection of blood flow to the muscles
- Muscle tension
- An increase in the clotting ability of blood
Stress isn’t completely harmful, but it can be if it’s chronic. Chronic stress can cause illness and diseases such as:
Stress causes a risk of increased plaque buildup in the arteries. This buildup of plaque can lead to coronary artery disease. The increase in heart rate caused by the ” fight or flight” response can cause irregular heart rate. The increased fat in the bloodstream can build up in the abdomen and cause an increased risk of heart disease.
Some researchers believe in a theory called “learned helplessness.” This theory relates to repeated stress-causing helplessness. Repeated helplessness causes depression. Each episode of helplessness causes the stressed person to become even more helpless. Eventually, they only “know” how to be helpless,(re: “learned helplessness”).
Studies have shown that repeated stress can have a negative effect on the immune system, decreasing the immune system’s ability to fight illness and disease. Colds, infections, and viruses can be caused by repeated stress on the mind and body.
Repeated stress generally causes overeating. This kind of eating is caused by “stress eating.” Stress eating occurs when trying to “feed” emotional overload with food. Comfort food is usually food with fat and sugar — the kinds of foods that cause obesity. I know I am definitely guilty of stress eating.
Stress can have many negative effects on the body. Besides the above disorders, stress can also cause:
- Increased risk of heart attack
- Menstrual problems
- Chest pain
- Skin conditions such as, eczema
- Pain, or an increase in pain
The effects that stress can have on health are many. Too much stress can cause an array of illnesses and diseases. If you are experiencing any of these illnesses or diseases it’s important to see a healthcare professional.
What can you do about stress?
First off, figure out what’s causing the stress. Is your day packed with too many things to do? Make a list of all that you feel needs to be done for that day. Now the key is to go back over the list and see what can be moved to the next day and what can really be scratched off the list entirely. Now that you have eliminated items from your to-do list, you can easily go about completing the remaining items quickly and efficiently. I think that stress can build up quicker than we realize. Everybody is so busy, and people, in general, are just not taking the time or making the time to do something they really enjoy on a daily basis. You set your schedule; it’s up to you to allow yourself some relaxing moments every single day.
So, what’s a good stress reliever? From personal experience, I have compiled my own list of 10 wonderful ways to relieve stress that work for me in my time of need! Of course, the list will be altered according to your individual likes and needs, but the idea is you will be taking care of yourself.
Ways to Relieve Stress
I chose to put this one first because I feel it could be the most important. Laughter can do so many things for you and your body…and it just feels good! Laughing actually slows down your stress response and increases your heart rate. They don’t say “Laughter is the best medicine” for nothing!
Whether it’s walking, reading, cooking….whatever the activity that you choose, “doing something” is always better than doing nothing. Keeping your mind and your body busy is important.
I know when we are stressed, sometimes the last thing we want to do is be around people, but actually, being around people is better for us. When socializing, a conversation is started, and it allows us to change our mental state of mind, focusing more on the present conversation than our issues. Call a friend and schedule a time to enjoy a cup of coffee together. Sometimes it’s hard to do, but even a walk through a grocery store can work. The point is, get yourself out and interact.
Get Some Sleep
Our need for sleep differs from one person to the next. Some people need to sleep 8-10 hours. Others can function for 5-6 hours. I even enjoy a power naps every now and then. Keep in mind that there are different levels of sleep. As long as the sleep that you are having is a good quality sleep, that’s the important part. But, when you wake, be sure to get up! Too much sleep can make you feel even more tired and irritable.
Listen to Music
This is one of my favorites! Let’s be honest. How many of us have turned the stereo up in the car when our favorite song comes on; or blasted the music at home when we are cooking or cleaning the house. Music is a great trigger! It seems that there are always lyrics that match what we are going through at that specific moment. Music allows us to say what we can’t. Music is a healer. So next time everyone is out of the house (or not), blast that stereo; it’s okay!
I obviously write, a lot, here on the blog. And you could too! Start an online journal, a paper journal, whatever you think would help. Writing is a good way to express what is bothering you or causing you stress. Don’t worry about the punctuation or spelling or even grammar; just write until you feel you have gotten it all out of your system. Then you can go back and revise…if you want. When we think “too” much, it is when the words that we want to get out get stuck inside.
Sometimes we have people who expect us to do this or that, make appointments, get together for lunch or drinks, and sometimes we can find ourselves taking on too much. Saying YES too often. Don’t overload yourself! You want to keep yourself busy, yes, but to the point that it’s causing stress. So, know your limits and be willing to say no or take a rain check for next time. They will understand. We’ve all been there.
This is a tough one sometimes. I know for me it was, but I’m getting much better at it. If you are in a relationship, communicating is very important. We all want that “perfect” relationship, but in understanding that, you have to know that no one is perfect, and you have to voice your concerns, frustrations, wants, and needs. Assuming that anyone knows how you feel or what you want or don’t want is merely impossible. Being direct about your feelings helps you to release that stress and at the same time helps others to understand. So, don’t be afraid to talk it out. And this doesn’t just pertain to communicating with your significant other, communication is important amongst friends, at work, with family, the list goes on and on.
Kick in those amazing endorphins! You all know that I love to exercise. Walking, running, going to the gym and I also love Jazzercise! It’s a fun way to exercise without seeming like it’s exercise. There are all kinds different types of exercise out there for beginners, so just find the one you enjoy and do it. Yoga and Tai Chi are good for meditation and a slow-paced exercise. Jazzercise is more physical, fast-paced, dance-like. Whatever your choice, make sure you are doing something that can get the blood flowing and keep the heart rate good. Take care of that body!
Last but certainly not least: Relax! Take a hot bubble bath, pop a movie in, snuggle, or grab your favorite book and sit back in that lazy boy. You can even turn off the phone. You want your relaxation time to be just that…nothing more.
What this article is really about is you managing your own stress. Nobody else can really do it for you. It’s up to you to deal with all life’s little curve balls that will come your way, and they will. Be prepared for it all by eating healthy, sleeping well, getting enough exercise, and taking care of YOU.
If stress is constant in your life, there is help available. See your doctor.