Stress is our body’s way to respond to any threat that it perceives. When we are under stress, our body’s defense mechanism goes into an automatic process which is known as fight-or-flight. Stress can be a lifesaver in an emergency, by providing extra strength to defend ourselves. However, our nervous system cannot differentiate between a physical and emotional threat. Our body can respond in the same way as if we are facing a real situation of life or death, if we happen to be very stressed over a deadline related to work, an argument with a friend, or a heap of pending bills to pay.
Adverse effects of stress
If like many of us you tend to stress out frequently, your body may be in a constant state of stress most of the time. This can open a door for severe health issues. Almost every system in our body is disrupted due to chronic stress. It can suppress our immune system, disrupt the reproductive and digestive systems, increase the risk of stroke, and speed up the process of aging. It can even start effecting the brain adversely, leaving you more susceptible to depression and anxiety. Though it is true that everyone can get anxious at times, but chronic anxiety can interfere with our quality of life. A reputed psychologist and certain other mental health professionals can diagnose chronic anxiety and provide you with suitable anxiety disorder treatment.
How to improve your body’s ability to deal with stress?
It is very important to first recognize stressful situations when they occur, as this will help you to focus on managing your reaction to it. We all need to understand that it is time to close our eyes, take a deep breath and relax, when we are under some kind of stress. Use these helpful tips to prevent and cope with chronic stress in a better way.
1. Just get moving
One tactic that you can apply to help relieve stress and begin to feel better is to raise your activity level. By exercising regularly, we can elevate our mood, which serves as a distraction from our worries, allowing us to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that are causing stress. Exercise such as walking, running, swimming, yoga, and dancing, are all effective ways to deal with stress. So practice them mindfully in order to achieve the desired results.
2. Connecting with others
When we feel agitated or insecure, a simple act of face-to-face communication with another person can trigger hormones in our body, that relieve stress. Even a brief exchange of kind words or another person’s friendly look can help calm your nervous system and soothe it. So, we all need to spend time with individuals who enhance our mood and make us happy. We do not need to let our duties keep us from having and enjoying a social life. If you don’t have close relationships, or your relationships are causing you more stress, start to build stronger, meaningful and more satisfying connections with people.
3. Eat a well balanced diet
The food which we eat can worsen or enhance our mood and influence our ability to deal with stressful situations. Having a diet which is full of convenient and processed foods, sugary snacks and refined carbohydrates, can make the symptoms of stress worse. On the contrary, a diet that contains fresh vegetables and fruits, high-quality protein, and omega-3 fatty acids can help us cope with the ups and downs of our life in a confident way. And more importantly, your stress and anxiety are causing you real issues, if you are abusing alcohol or using drugs to take you through the day. In this case, you should always seek professional help and get anxiety disorder treatment if you’re engaging in any unhealthy behaviors.
4. Get your senses involved
Smell, sight, sound, touch, or movement, are another quick way to relieve stress as they engage one or more of your senses. Finding the sensory input that works for us is important. Does it calm you when you listen to an uplifting song? Or it is the smell of ground coffee that soothes you? Or maybe petting your dog works for you. Everyone responds a little differently to sensory input, so experiment to find what works best for you.
5. Relax and unwind
You cannot avoid or take out the stress from your life completely, but you can control how much you are affected by it. Relaxation methods such as yoga, meditation, and breathing in controlled rhythm, activate a state of restfulness. These activities, when practiced regularly, can reduce your daily stress levels and bring about joy and serenity. They also improve your ability to stay calm and composed under pressure. However, if you are so stressed that it has started to interfere with your ability to keep happy and lead a satisfying life, it is high time you seek counselling for stress.
6. Get proper rest
Feeling tired can increase stress levels by making you think in an irrational way. Chronic stress can, at the same time, disrupt your sleep. If you’re one of those individuals, who have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, there are a lot of ways to improve your sleep. Getting proper sleep at night reduced stress levels and makes you more productive and emotionally balanced.
When to consult a doctor?
There are times when anxiety and stress become overwhelming for us. We may notice certain signs, which are an indication that it’s time to see a doctor. If you notice a change in your eating habits, sleep pattern and you find yourself withdrawn, this might mean that your stress is taking too much of a toll on you. If your stress is causing a major decline in work or if you simply find yourself unable to cope with everyday life, it is a good idea to seek counseling for stress from a qualified doctor.
A doctor can help you cope up with stress by offering a number of solutions. These often include therapies to strengthen stress-management skills and in some cases medication to calm your anxiety. They may also suggest some natural alternatives like meditation. By including a combination of stress-reducing treatments and lifestyle habits, stress will no longer stop you from experiencing a happier and healthier life.