Did you know that the overproduction of stress hormones in our body can weaken our immune systems and impair our natural ability to fight diseases?? What a bummer!
Elevated stress levels for an extended period have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, anxiety, depression, erratic weight gain/loss, hair loss, and a plethora of other problems.
Workplace stress, college quizzes, financial worries, and strained relationships! For one-third of the global population, stress has become an uninvited and unwelcome guest who has become a permanent resident in their homes!
So, now that you know stress is not a great guest to host, let us try and understand What is stress, exactly?
Although there is no hard and fast definition of stress, it can be broadly interpreted as follows:
The feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with a situation, thereby causing you physical, emotional, or psychological distress.
Ironically, low doses of stress are essential and required for our bodies to function. It helps us stay alert and prepared. Even animals experience this type of stress, but for shorter durations. When a deer is being chased by a cheetah, it is bound to become anxious and stressed. However, this is beneficial and necessary for the deer to react to the situation better. It pushes the deer to run faster.
But as a quote in ancient Indian mythology goes,
“If taken in excess, even Amrutha (divine nectar) becomes poisonous.”
Excessive stress for prolonged periods does more harm than good and can impede productivity and efficiency.
So you’re probably thinking, “Yes, Ila. We already know that too much stress is harmful to us, but how can we even deal with it? Is it even possible?”
To answer your question, YES! It is absolutely doable.
Here are some simple things you can do to cope with excessive and unhealthy amounts of stress.
1. The stress diagnosis.
The first step in resolving any problem is to identify & acknowledge that we have one. Take a quiet 10 minutes away from your busy day and spend some time on contemplation.
Keep an eye out for physical symptoms such as headaches, tense muscles, hair loss, sleeplessness, and elevated blood pressure. And in terms of emotional and psychological symptoms to watch out for, depression, irritability, and nervous breakdowns are just a few indicators.
Once you’ve identified your symptoms, you can focus on relieving them.
2. Find the right balance between Zero and Extreme stress.
As I have previously explained, a little stress is advantageous. Chronic stress, however, is not. Find the middle ground, which is the right amount of stress that will help you to maximize your productivity without interfering with your physical, emotional, or psychological health!
When preparing a monthly audit report, taking an SAT, or being chased by a dog, for example! All three require you to stay vigilant and be on your toes! A little stress adds flavor to your life and safeguards it from becoming monotonous and bland. It helps to keep our brain muscles flexed. 😉
3. Eat healthier, exercise regularly, and take good care of your body.
When you are physically fit, you can handle stress better. You may have noticed that when your body is under the weather, you tend to get irritated by the slightest of things. When our immune system battles infections, our bodies produce certain chemicals that mess with our brains and thus can trigger mood swings.
If you are frequently sick or catching colds, you will experience a constant feeling of dullness and gloom. Even the slightest discomforts can cause you to feel more stressed than you would if you were in good health.
Try to get some physical activity at least 5 times a week. Do whatever activity it is that you enjoy doing. Walking your dog, gardening in your backyard, practicing yoga or dancing to your favorite tunes. Exercising regularly also helps to release the tension built up in the body.
Regularly consuming processed food causes erratic mood swings and adversely affects your health. Reduce your intake of sugary and salty foods, coffee, and sodas as much as possible. Ironically, beverages like coffee, which we drink when we’re tired and need a quick boost of energy, actually dull us down even more. Caffeine can make you nervous, restless, anxious, and sleepless, among other influences.
Reduce the consumption of alcoholic beverages, nicotine, tobacco, and other intoxicants. They are ineffective in reducing stress, and they can also cause more severe problems in the form of health consequences!
4. Slow down. Pause. And give yourself a break.
Life today is so chaotic, and sometimes we need to take a break to just calm down and unwind. Take a breather & don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Find delight in the little pleasures in life.
It’s not always about keeping up with the Joneses. Life is so much more than the corporate rat race that we are all unknowingly a part of. When work is too stressful, take a break. Spend time with those who are important to you. Make time for the things you love.
Slowing down allows us to see the beauty in the simplest of things. The next time you are out and about, don’t forget to look around for little things that can bring you joy. For instance, A blossoming flower, a vibrant butterfly, or simply the warmth of a local cafe!
5. Ensure that you get enough sleep.
Sleep is really very important in stress management. Having a fixed sleeping schedule recharges your mind and body for the day ahead and even puts you in a good mood.
I won’t go into detail because I mention it in practically every one of my posts. Not having a good night’s sleep = CRANKY AND IRRITABLE YOU!
6. Regularly practice meditation.
When you can’t fix what’s happening outside, fix what’s happening on the inside.
Every day, set aside 10 minutes to sit in a quiet & comfortable spot and just take deep breaths. It is okay to get distracted. Focus solely on your inhalations and exhalations. Attempt to slow down the pace of your mind. Be totally aware of your thoughts and emotions in the present moment.
Meditation relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, and calms the mind. It induces a higher sense of awareness and allows you to respond more effectively to stressful situations. It greatly helps in coping with anxiety and depression.
Though you may be unable to change the factors causing you stress, you can certainly control how you respond to them. MEDITATION helps you do just this.
You will eventually be enabled to live your life with mindfulness and lower stress.
7. Indulge in some self-love.
Take yourself out on a date, get a spa treatment, or go hiking! Whatever makes you feel better.
Pampering yourself is an excellent & effective way to relieve stress. It rejuvenates both you and your mind. Make time each day to do things you love. Take up a new hobby that you enjoy. It can be anything. Hiking, cycling, knitting, gardening, or even reading books!
Every once in a while, get a scalp and body massage or give yourself one. This relieves all physical tension stored in the body, such as aches, knots, and stiffness.
8. Identify your stressors.
If the sources of your stress are something that you can get rid of or minimize to some extent, do it. A toxic relationship, for instance, is something you can come out of.
If your stressors are things that you cannot control, then give yourself a break. Try not to be too harsh on yourself. When necessary, learn to say NO. If you sense your coworkers are pressing their work on you, or if you believe something is harmful to your mental health, don’t be afraid to say NO!
Understand what triggers your anxiety and work on reducing it.
9. Do not hesitate to ask for help when you need it.
If you believe that your stress is getting out of control and making you feel miserable and hopeless, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not hesitate to get help!
Talk to your loved ones, family, and friends whom you trust. Tell them of your worries and concerns. Often, sharing your woes with someone you trust reduces a big chunk of the burden.
If you’re unable to seek support from your family or friends, do not be embarrassed or ashamed to approach a counselor or therapist. Mental health IS NOT, and SHOULD NOT, be a taboo subject!
If not fix your problem, your therapist can surely help you deal with it better and make the journey less lonely.
10. Bonus time!
Here are a couple of extra pointers I’d love for you to keep in mind.
- Decluttering my home and my life has shown to be really effective in decreasing stress. Declutter toxic friendships, unhealthy habits, and every other negative thing in your life. You can learn more about how you can get started with decluttering your home here.
- Traveling to somewhere you have never been before, every once in a while, can provide you with a fresh perspective on life! It doesn’t have to be a fancy, luxurious or exotic vacation! Just a simple road trip can sometimes do wonders!
- Surround yourself with people who will bring out the best in you and push you in good ways! Surrounding yourself with people who have an extremely pessimistic outlook on life can add heaps to your stress!
I hope this post has given you some confidence and positivity.
Smile! The world is a beautiful place! Do not allow stress to get the best of you. It is entirely within your power to deal with it. Use the tips provided and let me know how that works for you.