Nobody is immune to stress – it’s an inevitable part of human existence because we are in fact equipped with it as a natural response to danger. But stress can negatively affect our mood, how we treat those around us and how we deal with daily happenings. Stress can also be debilitating, and it can cause and/or aggravate health problems. People under stress – especially those prone to chronic stress — are more susceptible to a variety of ailments, from headaches and insomnia to high blood pressure and heart disease that can lead to death.
April is stress awareness month and it’s a good time to take a step back and understand your own stress level and if it can be affecting your daily mindset and/or your health, as well as others around you. Because sometimes, we don’t even know we are stressed.
Stress signs and symptoms to look out for
You might feel:
- Irritable and impatient
- Like your thoughts are racing and you can’t switch off
- Uninterested in life
Some physical effects are:
- Difficulty breathing and panic attacks
- Sleep problems
- Chest pains
- Constipation or diarrhea
Here are eight things you can do in your life to control your stress level so that you don’t experience these physical, emotional and harmful effects.
Physical activity pumps up your endorphins and other natural neural chemicals that enhance your sense of well-being. Exercise can also refocus your mind, and finally, it’s good for your heart. Set an appointment in your calendar and block out time to get active!
A balanced diet can support a healthy immune system and the repair of damaged cells. It provides the extra energy needed to cope with stressful events. Research also suggests that certain foods like polyunsaturated fats including omega-3 fats and vegetables may help to regulate cortisol levels. If you need help in determining the best meal plan to keep you healthy, consult with a VIDA Registered Dietician today.
Connect with others
Social contact is a good stress reliever because it can offer distraction, provide support and help you tolerate lifes up and downs. So take a walk with a friend, reach out to a family member, or go to the gym!
Between email, texts, and social media, the world follows us everywhere. Even into the bathroom! Take at least ten minutes every day (even more is better) and put your phone and computer where you can’t see or use them.
Do What Makes You Happy
If taking a warm bath or reading a book or spending time on a hobby makes you relax, do that. Every day.
Remember, you can’t function fully at a job or school, or as a parent or partner, or friend if you are not physically and mentally healthy. Take steps to destress, and remain relatively stress-free to be the best version of yourself.