We all experience stress in our daily lives from different sources: jobs, relationships, and finances. And whether you’re dealing with a daily stressor, chronic stress, or a major life illness, stress can take a significant toll on you both physically and emotionally. How do you know when you’re dealing with a level of stress that’s unhealthy for you?
How stress harms your health
Unlike everyday stressors, which can be managed with healthy stress management behaviors, untreated chronic stress can result in serious health conditions including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. Research shows that stress can contribute to the development of major illnesses, such as heart disease, depression and obesity.
Some studies have even suggested that unhealthy chronic stress management, such as overrating “comfort” foods, has contributed to the growing obesity epidemic. Yet, despite its connection to illness, APA’s Stress in America survey revealed that 33 percent of Americans never discuss ways to manage stress with their healthcare provider.
Managing your stress
Many Americans who experience prolonged stress are not making the lifestyle changes necessary to reduce stress and ultimately prevent health problems. Improving lifestyle and behavioral choices are essential steps toward increasing overall health and avoiding chronic stress. The key to managing stress is recognizing and changing the behaviors that cause it but changing your behavior can be challenging.
Taking one small step to reduce your stress and improve your emotional health, such as going on a daily walk, can have a beneficial effect. Being active is a small but powerful change you can make to manage stress. Physical activity increases your body’s production of feel-good endorphins, a type of neurotransmitter in the brain, and helps in treating mild forms of depression and anxiety. In addition, eating a healthy diet and enhancing both the amount and quality of your sleep may be beneficial.
Before going into the more creative and less obvious ways to create a safe space where you can talk about what’s stressing you and feel free from additional stress and judgment. I’d like to mention If you feel that the stress you are experiencing is overwhelming, or if you’re dealing with serious trauma or situations that the average person may not understand, life coach and support can be wonderfully effective.