"I'm stressed out!" Something you have probably said or heard many times before. But have you ever thought about the effects of long term stress? Constant stress doesn't just affect your mood - it has serious health effects. In today's world, it's important that all of us learn how to relieve stress when it hits.
When your body experiences stress it causes a chemical reaction that get your ready to fight whatever is threatening you - whether it's an aggressive dog when you're out on a walk or a boss constantly looking over your shoulder. Stress causes your heart rate to pick up, your blood pressure to rise, and adrenaline to flow to your muscles. When your body is constantly in this state of readiness, it can disrupt normal bodily functions and wear you out.
Constant stress has been shown to affect your sleep, weaken your immune system, and even contribute to long term health problems like heart disease. People who regularly experience high levels of stress often suffer from:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
Clearly, stress isn't something you can ignore or hope goes away on its own. Taking control of how you react to stress is an important step to reducing its harmful effects on your health.
Tips to relieve stress
- Eat a healthy diet - including snacks! Have healthy snacks on hand to help with those "stress binges"
- Get regular exercise
- Get plenty of sleep
- Practice relaxation techniques or learn to meditate
- Do something repetitive such as coloring, knitting, or even vacuuming - repetitive activities have been shown to slow down heart rate and reduce blood pressure
- Listen to soothing music
- Practice yoga
- Foster healthy friendships
- Have a sense of humor
- Write in a journal
- Seek professional counseling when needed