Stress without a doubt has to be the most overlooked aspect of getting healthy and well.
We are getting pretty good at recognizing that we need to eat better, exercise and take care of ourselves but we allow stress to practically undo all the great work we have done.
If you think stress is not physically affecting you and your body you really need to keep reading to get an understanding of this silent killer.
What Is Stress?
Stress is simply how your body reacts to potentially harmful situations. And what is of most importance; it does not matter if that stress is real or perceived.
During times of stress your body reacts with a release of chemicals and hormones that are in us to help prevent injury or trauma. This is your fight or flight response that we are all aware of.
This response has been crucial to our survival whether it was escaping the chase of saber toothed tiger or jumping out of the way of a speeding car running a red light today.
In these short burst it is necessary and crucial to our survival and well being but chronic long term stress can end up having some serious negative effects on your body. Ready for a long list of what stress can do to you?
- Headaches & dizziness
- irritability and anger
- panic disorders
- grinding of the teeth and jaw
- increased heart rate
- heart disease
- diabetes type 1 & 2
- digestive disorders
- upset stomach
- weight gain and obesity
- lack of energy
- immune system dysfunction
It’s quite clear that stress is something we need to eliminate or at least manage in our lives.
It seems kind of crazy that something we can’t see, smell or touch can cause that amount of issues but at the moment 43% suffer adverse health effects from stress and The American Medical Association has observed that stress is the cause of 60% of all illnesses and disease.
75-90% of all doctors office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints and The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard to the workplace and that it’s costing the American Industry more than $300 billion annually.
Yes Billion with a B.
It’s time to recognize that stress can really take a terrible hold on our lives. We need to recognize that it has evolved over the centuries from worrying about adequate shelter, worrying about harvesting a crop in time,stress of war to workplace and financial stress.
It doesn’t matter where it is coming from our body reacts the same way.
Where Else Does Stress Come From?
The 3 things that put stress on the body are:
- Your Environment– this can be weather threats, heat and cold, crowded cities, pollution, it’s kind of constantly changing list
- Your Body– This can be when you are run down, sick or ill, not getting enough sleep, not feeding yourself correctly, not exercising etc
- Your Thoughts– Probably one of the most difficult to deal with as your mind can really lead you astray with negative thinking and having a narrow perspective on something that in truth is not actually significant.
First Steps To Dealing With Stress
Psychologists say that one of the first things that needs to be done when dealing with stress is to identify where the stress is coming from. This really is crucial as it allows you to realize what stress is actually out of your control and what might be made up by you.
This enables you to be put a bit more at ease just by realizing somethings are really out of our control.
This allows you to create a better stress management mind set. The American Heart Association shares that changing your thought process has some real stress management benefits. Simply getting in the habit of saying “I can’t do this” to “I’ll do the best I can” can really set you up for success.
This can really help along with telling yourself you can handle things by taking things one step at a time as opposed to thinking “EVERYTHING is going wrong..”
5 Other Ways To Deal With Stress
- Counting to ten before reacting (I’ve really found this to help)
- Exercise of course but even long walks have a calming effect on the body
- Deep Breathing– Inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of two and slowly exhale. Repeat 4-5 times
- Not being afraid to vent to someone who will listen. If there’s no one you can turn to keeping a journal and writing down your thoughts when they build up is incredibly effective in managing your stress and mind set
- SLEEP!– You need it more than ever when stressed and sleep allows your body to metabolize away those stress hormones. Make it a point to get more sleep when stress hits.
Wrapping It Up
Hopefully you have been able to see what a real threat stress can be in your health and wellness pursuits.
The sooner you are able to learn to identify stress and most importantly, learn to manage it, the sooner you will be able to take back control of you life and your health.