Several studies have linked chronic stress to the development of life-threatening diseases like heart disease and diabetes. High stress levels also lead to job burnout, poor productivity, and family breakups. But before we talk about how to put an end to this, let’s take a look at what stress really is an how it impacts our lives.
Stress is an emotional reaction to life events. Therefore, stress is a personal experience. What is stressful to one person may be easy and enjoyable for another.
When we experience a situation that makes us feel stressed, our bodies respond quickly. Many organs and systems are highly impacted by the changes in hormones that are released to help us deal with the stressful event. After the perceived threat is gone, our bodies begin to return to normal. Until then however, our heart rate and blood pressure stay elevated, our immune system remains vulnerable, and our digestion is drastically reduced.
Back when running away from wild animals and getting out of bad weather were the primary threats, our stress response would help us find safety and protection. Now that life has become chronically stressful for so many people however, the body never has time to relax and return to a normal, healthy state of being. The repetitive events that increase our stress keep our body in a state of alarm which is what, overtime, leads to disease and other negative life events.
At work, it’s estimated that 60% of absences are due to stress-related issues. And, at home, stress effects everything from our relationships to our health as well as our wallets and happiness.
Here are a few signs that can help you to determine if you’re under stress:
- Sleep Issues
- Back Pain
- Stiff Neck
- Shortness of Breath
- Weight Gain or Loss
- Relationship Problems
If you are experiencing one or several of these symptoms, it’s important to tune into how you’re living so you can put a stop to the vicious cycle of stress. Since stress is an emotional reaction to certain events, pharmaceuticals have a limited ability to provide relief. Instead, it can be very helpful to modify lifestyle habits to both reduce stress and help your body deal with stress.
Here are some lifestyle recommendations that will help put a stop to stress:
- Exercise –
- Great for releasing built up energy and tension
- Improves confidence
- Releases “feel-good” hormones
- May improve sleep, concentration, pain, and quality of life
2. Chiropractic Adjustments
- Relieves tension in muscles
- Reduces inflammation
- Realigns spinal bones
- Reduces irritation on the nerves
- Usually has immediate and long-term effects
3. Nutritional Supplements
- May help reduce stress or help your body handle stress
- Herbal teas can be calming (chamomile, valerian, lavender)
- B-vitamins and zinc can help keep your immune system strong under stress
4. Healthy Mindset
- Decide to act with purpose instead of reacting to what life throws out
- Take charge of the events in your life
- Determine what emotions you want to experience and remind yourself of that when a stressful event occurs
- Write down the events you’re faced with day-to-day, then determine which are most important for you and schedule them
- Avoid procrastination
- Plan relaxation into your routine
- Remember relaxation is just as important as productivity (in fact, it’s been show to increase productivity)
- Listen to calming music
- Enjoy being in nature
- Talk with someone you love
- Reminisce about a joyful moment in life
- Choose a few positive affirmations (messages) to pop up on your phone or to sit on your desk
Just like situations increase stress differently from one person to the next, stress-relief techniques impact each person individually as well. Make a concentrated effort to determine what is most stressful in your life. Then, set the intention to eliminate or reduce the cause as well as increase relaxation techniques into your routine.