A certain level of stress in life is to be expected, and in fact, some stress is good for us. After all, it keeps us alert and productive, enabling us to hit deadlines and get things done that are important to us, and to others. However, sometimes stress can go very wrong indeed, and become long-term, or chronic to put it in medical language. Chronic stress is something everyone should avoid as much as possible as it leads to many serious, even dangerous, conditions. These include heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure (which causes strokes), headaches, some forms of cancer, weight gain, insomnia, and more.
Although it would be impossible to eliminate all stress from our lives (and not recommended, as it is required in some cases), reducing the amount of stress we feel, and removing chronic stress, is certainly a good idea. Here are some ways that you can do this, although if you are finding it overwhelming and nothing is helping, seeking medical help is important.
Know What Your Stressors Are
If you don’t know what it is that is making you feel stressed; it will be much harder to reduce your stress levels in general. This is why you should look out for the stressors in your life. Make a mental note every time you feel angry, irritated, overwhelmed, close to tears, or anything else that might indicate you are stressed out, and this will help you work out what it is that worries you.
Everyone is different and will react differently to situations. Some will find that their finances cause a lot of stress, and others will find that it is their work situation, either a lack of a job or being in a job that is boring or unpleasant, for example. Relationships, health, weight, the environment, politics, not having a clear plan or goal, not being challenged in life, and more can all be stressors, so don’t discount anything because that might be what is making you sick.
Reverse Your Stress Response
Now that you know what it is that causes you to stress, it will be easier to deal with it. When you feel that your stress response has been activated, or you know you are heading into a stressful situation, you can start to reverse that response through a number of different calming methods. Deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness practice can all help.
It will also help if you can remove that stressor from your life. Although this isn’t always possible, working towards that goal can help you become less chronically stressed. When it comes to finances, for example, you might find that getting a personal loan to consolidate your debt and make repayments easier is the way forward; if that is the case for you, look at this. If it is your job that is causing you a problem, maybe it is time to look for a new one, or even to re-train so that you can start an entirely new career. Often it is having a plan to solve your stressors that begin the process of de-stressing about them.
Look After Yourself
You mental and physical health are completely linked, so if you are feeling stressed, looking after your physical body can help to reduce that stress. Eating healthily is a good way to start. Begin by reducing your portion sizes and switch junk food for fresh fruit and vegetables. It will be hard to change your eating habits, to begin with, but after a short time you will be used to the new regime, and your body will adapt accordingly.
Exercise is just as important as eating the right foods in the right amounts. Taking part in regular exercise classes, going to the gym, or simply taking a brisk walk around the block will all help you. While you are exercising, you won’t be thinking about whatever it is that is stressing you, so that’s a good thing and certainly a bonus. However, exercise can help to focus you, clear the mind, and help you to make better decisions about your life.
As well as this, getting enough sleep is also crucial: around seven to eight hours a night is ideal (although this will depend somewhat on the individual). Sleep is important because your body repairs itself during that time, and that includes your brain. It is why it is a good idea to sleep on a problem because everything will be much easier to think about and deal with in the morning.
Finally, looking after yourself also means treating yourself now and then. It could be a sweet treat (although this really should be in moderation), or a spa day. Perhaps just some time out to read a book, or a trip out to a museum or art gallery. You need to enjoy yourself and be rewarded for your hard work and this will de-stress you hugely.
Have A Positive Attitude
A positive attitude can make even the most stressful of situations feel a lot better, even when those situations are completely out of our control. A positive attitude might be difficult to cultivate, but it is crucial for being less stressed and to enjoying life more in general. Start by replacing certain words and phrases in your vocabulary from negative ones to more positive ones, and even this small change can make a big difference. Looking on the bright side might seem like a cliché, but it works! Try it next time you are in a difficult situation, and you’ll see what a difference it makes to how you feel and how you can react to what is going on around you.
Even if you don’t realize it, organization (or lack of it) could be feeding your stressors. The more organized you are, the less stressed you will be in general. You will always know where things are and what you are meant to be doing at a certain time. You will have everything in hand and planned in advance. This means stress is less likely to occur, and if something were to change your plans, you would find it easier to adapt and change with them.