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Why Stress Matters — and How You Can Handle It


Why Stress Matters — and How You Can Handle It

Why Stress Matters — and How You Can Handle It

How many times have you said, “Oh, I’m so stressed.” Probably a lot. Stress is both a normal and typical reaction to external causes. You may feel stressed about a lengthy to-do list, a frustrating interaction, or the state of the world.

When you’re stressed, your body will respond, both physically and mentally. Your fight-or-flight response will kick in, and you may have an elevated heart rate, get a bit sweaty or feel a boost of energy. Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing: When you feel stressed before an exam, it can help motivate you to study.

Chronic stress, on the other hand, can wear on your physical and mental health.

How Does Stress Manifest in Your Body?

According to the Mayo Clinic, experiencing stress may have the following effects:

• Headache
• Anxiety
• Changes to your eating habits
• Muscle tension or pain
• Restlessness
• Chest pain
• Lack of motivation or focus
• Substance misuse
• Fatigue and sleep problems
• Feeling overwhelmed
• Mood changes, including being irritable or angry, feeling sad or experiencing depression
• Change in sex drive

How to Manage Stress

If you are frequently stressed, over the long term, it can have a negative and pervasive effect on your health. Stress makes every problem seem worse, can lead to disease and inhibits your recovery if you’re sick, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

Fortunately, there are several strategies you can put in place to help manage stress, and avert these outcomes.

Cut down on stressors:
If it’s work that’s causing you stress, speak to your manager and see if there’s a way to manage your responsibilities. Look for ways with all stressors to reduce their impact — maybe that means having your child buy lunch at school, rather than prepping food during hectic mornings, or making a meal plan so that dinnertime runs smoothly.

If it’s work that’s causing you stress, speak to your manager and see if there’s a way to manage your responsibilities. Look for ways with all stressors to reduce their impact — maybe that means having your child buy lunch at school, rather than prepping food during hectic mornings, or making a meal plan so that dinnertime runs smoothly.

Exercise:
In addition to every other health benefit that comes with physical activity, exercise is also a mood lifter. Try going for a walk or bike ride if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Be thoughtful about eating:

Stressful times can make people opt for foods full of fat and sugar. Or, sometimes it’s a total appetite killer. Eating the rainbow is better for your health and also gives you the energy to confront problems, per the APA.

Meditate:
Deep breathing and meditation can help quell stress.

Get support:
Don’t feel like you have to figure it all out on your own. Qualified mental health professionals can help you reframe thoughts, pinpoint strategies that will help you and more. Friends and family can also help and offer support.

Do fun things:
What do you love to do? Don’t abandon your hobbies due to stress. Time spent on the activities you love is a solid stress management tactic.

Journal:
Writing down your worries and concerns can also be a helpful tactic.

See more ideas for how to calm down and stay in the moment, along with anti-inflammatory foods to eat when you’re experiencing stress.



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