I’m not kidding when I say that. Stress has also been linked to some common medical problems like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, depression, asthma, headaches, diabetes, and the list goes on! Stress doesn’t just make us feel like poo emotionally, it can also exacerbate just about every health condition you can name off the top of you head and then some. Our cells grow at an increased rate when we are stressed, making us grow older than we really are, and making us more prone to age-related diseases, like heart disease and diabetes.
When we are stressed out, our bodies release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. When stress becomes an every day occurrence, the cortisol can make you gain weight around your stomach area. That type of fat is related to cardiovascular disease and increases your risk for a heart attack and stroke. You can experience high blood pressure, increased heart rate and blood flow when stressed. Those that are stressed usually have higher cholesterol too. With higher cortisol in the body, it can suppress our immune systems and make it harder for us to fight infections. To top it off, it can cause Type 2 diabetes by increases our blood sugar.
We all know too, that when we become stressed we start reaching for comfort foods and those typically aren’t the healthiest. Which in turn can cause obesity. Tension headaches, migraines, anxiety and depression are all triggered by high stress levels, not to mention irritable bowel syndrome, heart burn and acid reflux.
As a society, we don’t typically do something about stress until it’s overwhelming and that’s all we can focus on, is how stressed we are. It interferes with out everyday lives. But we can all learn some strategies to help relieve our stress levels before it becomes to much to handle. Which in turn makes us feel better and improves our health! All you have to do is learn to recognize the thoughts and feelings of stress and you can break the cycle before it ever even starts! Here are a few ways you can do that 🙂
- Walk it off: Stepping outside and taking a quick walk can help you to start feeling calm within the first few minutes. Research has shown that just walking alone can reduce the risk of heart disease and supports bone health and cognitive function along with your mental well being.
- Practice Gratitude: Count all the things you are thankful for, it can be anything. Write them down in a journal or on your calendar. Being grateful for things in your life, even when life isn’t going the way you want it too, can make you feel happier and not as stressed out. It can help you cultivate a more positive attitude and helps to put on the breaks on your flight or flight response. Also, there is an app that I just downloaded called “Happier” and it helps you to learn to be more grateful for the things in your life. We all need a little reminder sometimes.
- Set limits on technology: With the crazy invention of the smart phone we can stay busy with our jobs and life and still stay crazy stressed all at the same time. Isn’t that wonderful? There have been studies done that have shown that those that say check their emails 15 times a day were far more stressed out than those that maybe check them only 3-4 times a day. In these same studies, they took those that were checking emails 15+ times a day, and had them reduce it to 3-4 times a day, their overall stress levels and tension went down dramatically. Coincidence? I think not!
- Look up: Sounds easy, right? Just a few minutes of sky-gazing can open your mind just enough to help you feel refreshed and help reset yourself. All you need is a comfortable place to sit and just look up. Being outside does wonders.
- Accept the way things are: Focus on the present moment in a nonjudgmental way. Instead of wishing that something were different and complaining about it – pay attention to your breathing. Focus on it coming into your body and leaving your body. (sounds like meditation, doesn’t it? But it works!) Thoughts will always come into your mind and you have the power to either believe them or resist them. Thoughts are usually just opinions anyway and aren’t facts.
- Take a break: Downtime can actually help you reset and not feel so overwhelmed. We have been programmed to believe that rest is a sign of laziness and being busy bees is a sign of being productive. Well…you can only go so long before the tank needs to be refilled. Resting gives your brain a chance to connect all the dots. Ultimately, it will help you to feel stress free, or at least a very low level of stress.
- Massage your ears: Though I have never tried this myself, I have heard that it works. I could have been doing it wrong though…oops! Research shows that it stimulates the same stress-reducing energy points used in acupuncture without the hefty bill 😉 Just close your eyes, and take a few deep breathes. Make sure you are focusing on your breathing. Then firmly rub, massage and tug your ears for 1-3 minutes and just relax. Relax your shoulders, your neck and back.
I hope these little tips help you to feel less stressed in your daily life or at least give you a way to help reduce some stress 🙂
Leave me a comment and let me know if they worked for you or not!!! 🙂