We’ve all been there with our hearts pounding, palms sweating, and mind racing. No matter what you are stressed about, from work that seems to keep piling up to that fight you just had with your partner, stress is an inevitable part of life. While everybody feels stressed at one point or another, it can really begin to take a toll on both your mental and physical health. When the brain is stressed, it puts the body into fight or flight mode which can lead to many different health issues.
How Stress Effects Your Health
Long-term or chronic stress can have serious repercussions on the health of both your mind and your body. Stress affects multiple aspects of your health and can cause:
- Your muscles to tense up, which can lead to health issues like tension migraines, musculoskeletal pain, and chronic pain conditions.
- Shortened, quicker breathing, which can lead to breathing complications for people suffering from certain respiratory issues.
- Increased heart rate, levels of adrenaline and cortisol, and blood pressure which, after constant stress, can lead to health issues like an increased risk of hypertension, heart attack, or stroke.
- Changes in the communication between the brain and the gut, influencing mood and causing gas, bloating or other gut-related discomforts.
- Mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
- A weakened immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to illnesses.
Tips to Deal with Stress
- Don’t spread yourself too thin. Allow yourself to say no when you feel the need to. It is okay to tell your friend you can’t hang out, turn down that work assignment, or cancel that blind date. Learning how to say no to new plans when you are feeling overwhelmed can be extremely beneficial to reducing your stress levels.
- Practice self-care. Self-care doesn’t always have to mean taking a bubble bath and reading a book. Self-care includes any form of caring for your mental or physical health. Make sure you are fueling your body with proper food, exercising, getting enough sleep, doing the things you love, and taking a break when you need to.
- Limit caffeine. Stimulants like coffee will add to the affects of your stress. You don’t have to give it up completely but try to cut your three daily cups back to one or temporarily switch to decaf if you find yourself feeling stressed.
- Vent to someone you trust. Sometimes, all we need is to talk about all that we are feeling, thinking, and frustrated about. Find somebody that you trust to open up to and let it all out. Most of the time, you will begin to feel a weight lifted from your shoulders as you do.
- Pick up meditation. Studies have found that meditation can remove built up stress, increase energy, and positively affect one’s overall health. There are many resources to begin meditation, including books, apps, and YouTube videos.
- Seek help if needed. Sometimes, we need help to work through all of the different stressors in our life. Seeking the help of a mental health professional can help you work through your stressors and learn new coping mechanisms.
Stress is an unavoidable, and unpleasant, part of life. When left untreated, it can lead to many mental and physical health issues. The good news is, there are many ways you can manage stress so that it doesn’t take over your life.