Stress: /stress/ noun- a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
Stress is normal and healthy for everyone to experience, but one study conducted showed 33% of adults reported experiencing high levels of stress (L. Wiegner., D. Hange., B. Cecilia., A.J. G., 2019). So, at what point do your stress levels become too much, and how can you keep them from getting out of control?
Although stress is a part of everyday life, people who find themselves in a constant state of heightened alertness are considered to have chronic stress. Some signs and symptoms of chronic stress include fatigue, headaches, irritability, difficulty or inability concentrating, rapid disorganized thoughts, difficulty sleeping, digestive problems, loss of sex drive and nervousness. If you find yourself dealing with chronic stress, there are some things you can do to both manage it and reduce your stress levels.
Being constantly stressed can have more adverse effects than just putting you in a bad mood. Research shows chronic stress can lead to respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine and gastrointestinal issues (American Psychological Association, 2020).
Exercise: Other than the notable physical benefits of exercising, regular physical activity has been shown to have mental benefits as well. Research shows that exercising releases endorphins- the feel good chemicals in your brain. This can help decrease tension, elevate your mood, help improve sleep and reduce feelings of anxiety. Another study shows exercising can increase emotional resilience which is the way your body handles stress (H. V.J., S. J.R., 1984).
Meditate: Studies have shown regular meditation can help improve emotional resilience and overall reduce stress, cortisol levels and inflammation in your body. Try to meditate for a couple of minutes daily to get the most benefits (M. A. Rosenkranz., R.J. Davidson., D.G., MacCoon, J.F. Sheridan., N.H. Kalin., A. Lutz., 2012).
Utilize aromatherapy and essential oils: The olfactory nerve located in your nose to your brain, plays a role in regulating your parasympathetic nervous system. This nerve sends signals to your brain which affects your limbic system and amygdala which are the parts of your brain that affect your emotions and mood. Certain compounds in essential oils have been found to trigger your olfactory nerve and shut down signaling to your brain which leads to a calming effect (P. H. Koulivand., M.K., Ghandiri., A. Gorji., 2013).
Lavender, Chamomile, Jasmine, Lemon and Sweet Basil have been shown to reduce stress and calm the mind.
Do Yoga: Yoga has been around for thousands of years being utilized as a form of medicine for both mind and body. Similarly to exercising, yoga has both physical and mental benefits if you practice regularly. Research shows yoga can help moderate your nervous system, balance hormones and regulate nerve impulses- which are three things that can help reduce your stress levels (M. Shohani., G. Badfar., M.P. Nasirkandy., S. Kaikhavani., S. Rahmati., Y. Modmeli., A. Soleymani., M. Azami., 2018).
Set Boundaries: This can be setting boundaries at work, in your personal relationships, or learning to say ‘no’ more. Making sure to set healthy boundaries within your life is imperative for reducing and managing stress. If you have difficulty setting boundaries, you might want to seek out help with a counselor who can help you set those boundaries and manage them.
We hope these tips help you live a more stress-free life. If you’re interested in talking to a therapist for stress management and help with setting boundaries, contact us here.
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