What is stress? Stress is the physical or mental response to an external cause, such as having to complete a big work project , or constantly dealing with negative people. A stressor may be a one-time or short-term occurrence, or it can happen repeatedly over a long time.
While stress in and of itself cannot kill you, your response to stress can have serious health consequences over a length of time. For example, if you overeat (or under-eat), drink too much alcohol, or smoke cigarettes when you are stressed, you are creating unhealthy consequences due to your stress. While these bad habits can be eliminated, other stress responses cannot, like the inability to sleep, or its negative effects on your immune system.
As a result, we need to create different responses to what stresses us out. Additionally, we need to replace bad habits (as mentioned above) with good habits so as not to further negatively impact our physical health.
How your reactions to stress can make you sick.
Numerous studies have shown that chronic stress can cause:
Muscle tension and pain
Heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke
Memory and concentration impairment
So, you can see why it's so important to find healthful strategies to deal with stressful situations.
How to deal with stress?
Your response to stressful situations is key to managing the harmful effects of stress. For example, if someone cuts you off on the road (just happened to me this morning), you can choose to scream and get all worked up, or take a deep breath and let it go (I chose the latter response today).
Stress management strategies include:
Eating a healthy diet.
Getting between 7-9 hours of sleep per day.
Practicing mind-body relaxation exercises such as yoga.
Practice deep breathing, and meditation daily.
Keeping a journal and writing about what you are grateful for in your life.
Taking time for hobbies, or things you are passionate about.
Reading, listening to music, or watching your favorite show or movie.
Making healthy friendships.
Talking with friends and family (unless they stress you out ;).
Having a sense of humor and finding ways to include humor and laughter in your life (i.e., watching funny cat videos).
Volunteering in your community.
Organizing and prioritizing what you need to accomplish at home and work.
Getting professional help, like counseling.
Also, you need to remove your negative habits when being stressed out as mentioned above. If you overeat (or under-eat), drink too much alcohol, smoke cigarettes, use drugs, or indulge in other bad habits when you are stressed, they will actually increase stress levels as your health and mortality become an issue.
Good luck! If you ever want help designing a program to help reduce your stress, or just need someone to talk with, I'm here for you.
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Stay Mentally, and Physically Healthy,
Author, The Short Fight