Written By Emily White
How To Deal With Stress Effectively
Stress is an increasingly rising epidemic, not only in America but worldwide. As termed by the American Psychological Association, chronic health is now a public health crisis. From their recent study, over 75% of the average American population suffers from moderate to chronic stress. The percentage is expected to increase with each passing day.
This begs the question, what is the main reason behind the increasing stress levels among the American population? Work and money, as stated by the American Psychological Association, is said to be the major cause of stress among the adult population. At least 80% of workers claim that their stress is work related and admit to needing help.
Without even knowing, stressed out parents affect their children as well. Parents that suffer from chronic stress levels tend to neglect their welfare of their children. According to the Global Organization for Stress, stress has become a major health issue among the American children and teens.
From the above-stated facts, it is clear that stress is a major concern, not only in America but in the world. Moreover, it is not only a problem that is exclusive to the adult population. Children and teenagers have been found to be dealing with stress, and need help to manage it. Before we take a look at a few tips on how to deal with stress, let us first look at the consequences of stress.
What Is Stress?
Before we take a look at the health consequences of stress, let us first start by defining stress.
Stress is basically how your body responds to a change in the surrounding environment. In a bid to adjust to these changes, your body often responds physically, mentally and emotionally. Stress can be both positive or negative, depending on the change that has occurred.
Stress is something that is part of our normal lives and can hardly be avoided. However, they can be managed appropriately. In other words, how we react to stress is very important. This then would lead us to ask, what happens if we fail to manage stress appropriately? Let us take a look.
The Health Effects of Unmanaged Stress
Stress, if left un-managed and dealt with, can impact our health in a negative way. Below, are some of the effects of stress on our overall health.
Whenever we face a stressful situation, we either have a fight or flight response. The response is often controlled by the Central Nervous System. The hypothalamus signals our adrenal glands to secrete the stress hormone known as cortisol.
This hormone, other than increasing our heart rate, it also leads to the rise of insulin levels. Simultaneously, your blood sugar levels will drop significantly, making you feel hungry. Moreover, you are likely to experience cravings for foods high in fat and sugar content.
Weak Immune System
Stress that tends to build up over time is said to be very risky for our health. The increased stress hormones only work to weaken our immune system, making us susceptible to illnesses. This is especially true for those suffering from chronic stress.
Stress is known to affect our digestive systems quite considerably. A stressful situation causes the body to overproduce glucose for energy. This is due to the hormone known as Cortisol that is released as a reaction to the situation. This hormone leads to physical and emotional changes such as increased heart rate.
Such changes often to impact our digestive system. Individuals are likely to experience constipation, diarrhoea, and acid reflux.
Other than the above-mentioned health consequences of chronic stress, individuals are also likely to suffer from other conditions. They include cardiovascular diseases, Diabetes Type 2, change in sex drive, depression and sleep problems just to name a few.
Now, let us take a look at a few ways on how to manage stress effectively.
Identify The Source Of Stress
Before you can start to effectively manage your stress, you need to identify the causes of your stress. Granted, that most stress factors often originate from work and other responsibilities. However, you should also try and pinpoint the ways in which you may be contributing to your overall stress.
A great way to do this is by investing in a stress journal. In it, record the various instances you get stressed and how you deal with them. This will help you recognize the cause of the stress more effectively. Identifying the cause of the problem will make it easier to come with solutions.
Engage In Physical Activity
As previously stated, stress is a normal part of life and can hardly be avoided. Whenever we are faced with stressful situations, the best thing to do is respond actively. Engage in physical activities on a regular or daily basis.
Physical activity is known to lead to the production of happy hormones such as Dopamine and Serotonin. These hormones tend to uplift our moods. Moreover, exercise helps stabilize the stress hormones and reverse its effects.
Chronic stress is not something you have to deal with alone. Reach out to people and loved ones for help and emotional support. They do not have to offer you medical advice, they simply have to spend time with you. Good listeners and the people that truly care about you can be a great shoulder to lean on.
Time Managemen Skills
Poor management is one of the major causes of stress. By failing to manage our time effectively, we tend to fall back on our daily tasks and responsibilities. In a bid to catch up, we tend to neglect our health and relationships.
We should instead learn to prioritize our tasks effectively. Learn to not over commit yourself when it comes to work and other responsibilities. Learn to take on only what you can handle.
Eat A Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet cannot be overemphasized. The healthier we eat, the better our bodies are prepared to deal with stressful situations. Cut down on alcohol and caffeine consumption. Instead, drink more water and herbal teas.
In conclusion, stress is a health epidemic. If left unmanaged, it can lead to detrimental effects to our overall health. Schedule your time more effectively and always make time for sleep and exercise during the day. Also, don't feel guilty when you allocate time for some fun and relaxation.
Want More Information on this topic check out the American Psychological Association PDF