Just about all of us have felt the overwhelming effects of stress at some time or another. And while feeling a bit of stress now and again is fine (in fact some stress is actually beneficial), an abundance of it can cause our bodies to overreact and make us sick.
One of the best ways to combat stress overload is to recognize the signs of it early on and do your best to stop it in its tracks, before it turns into a disorder or disease. Stress shows itself in our bodies in many forms: acne, upset stomach, headaches, dizziness and/or vertigo, fatigue and/or insomnia, frequent sickness, digestive problems, appetite changes, heart palpitations, excessive sweating, frequent “allergy” attacks, muscle tension, hair loss, frequent urination, feelings of panic, being easily startled, foggy brain, difficulty breathing, jaw clenching, teeth grinding, and chest pains are just a few of the signs that your mind is in overdrive.
If you’ve been to the doctor for any of the above symptoms and been given a clean bill of health, there is a good chance stress is the culprit. If that’s the case, thank your body for alerting you to the fact that you need to turn down the stress dial and then incorporate the following tips into your daily life to help keep you relaxed and sane.
1. Reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and refined sugars: all of these can cause energy crashes and lead to you feeling tired and irritable.
2. Move, every day: take a walk or start an exercise program to help lower the stress hormone of cortisol in your body.
3. Back away from the negativity: avoid the news for a while and stick with comedies or rom-coms. It’s trite because it’s true – laughter really is the best medicine.
4. If it’s within your control, change it: don’t take on extra work around the office and house if you don’t have to, create a plan to lose weight, find a new job, ask a friend for help, quit dating that person who’s all wrong for you, hire a maid service, find a way to pay off your debt, talk to a therapist – if you can take action to remove the extra stressors in your life, then by all means do so.
5. Eat well-balanced meals and get plenty of sleep: when you’re stressed you need even more energy than usual.
6. Practice deep breathing, relaxation techniques, go to a yoga or t’ai chi class, meditation, listen to music, read a good book, listen to a podcast, get a massage, keep a journal, take a bath, go outdoors, do something fun: virtually any of these will help calm you down and keep you distracted.
7. Know you’re not alone: we all feel stress and many of us quite often. If you start asking around you’ll realize it’s a pretty common phenomenon, so don’t add to your anxiety by worrying about the fact that you have it. Instead do something: recognize the signs of when your body is telling you it’s had enough and then immediately take action.