how to manage stress

How to Manage Stress: 5 Tips to Live a Better Life

Stress is something so present in our routine these days that it has practically normalized among people. Still, stress can be extremely harmful to your health, especially if you suffer from chronic stress for an extended period.

In today’s article, we’ll cover the risks and impacts of stress, as well as some tips to help you have a healthier lifestyle in this regard. You must recognize stress as a problem and work to resolve it as soon as possible.

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What is Stress?

In short, stress is a tool that the body and mind use to react to an adverse situation. Therefore, it is normal to feel stressed since it’s a body natural defence mechanism to respond to potentially dangerous situations.

What Happens When You are Stressed?

When we are faced with a challenging situation, our bodies release stress release hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. This reaction alters the physiology of the human body, preparing it to face possible threats or dangers. In this sense, stress can be positive, as it increases your focus, keeping you alert and ready to deal with the situation – this effect is known as “fight-or-flight” or “stress-response”.

Some of the body’s reactions to stress are rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and muscle tension. In a nutshell, when you feel stressed, your body begins to physiologically prepare itself for a survival situation.

What are the Types of Stress?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there are two types of stress:

1. Acute Stress

It is short term stress, usually associated with current situations or things that will happen soon. Usually, they are related to problems that have a clear and immediate solution. Still, acute stress can cause short-term effects, such as muscle tension, headaches, and upset stomach. When excessive, acute stress can develop into chronic stress, being even more harmful to health.

Example: When you have an exam in college or need to solve something punctual at work, you may experience acute stress.

2. Chronic Stress

Chronic stress is usually associated with more complex issues, such as traumatic situations, family problems, marriage, or work. It usually occurs when a person suffers from long-term stress without seeking help. Consequently, the body has difficulty returning to the normal level of stress hormone activity, leading to prolonged and even more frequent exposures to stress.`

What are the Signs of Stress?

Some of the signs seen may include anxiety, fear, aggression, sadness and frustration. Stress can also cause headaches, digestive problems, nausea, sweating, heart palpitations, hyperventilating and even pain.

What are the Effects of Long-Term Stress?

Chronic stress can contribute to immune problems, sleep disorders, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, in addition to psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In this sense, long-term stress can be extremely harmful, as its symptoms can aggravate existing conditions. If you already suffer from heart problems, for example, this disorder can get worse, so you should start working immediately to manage the stress.

5 Tips on How to Manage Stress

1. Seek Professional Help

This is tip number one, and we need to talk about it. Many people do not believe in therapy as a change factor, which is the biggest mistake you can make if you suffer from stress or any mental health disorder.

Keep in mind that you should always seek help, especially when you cannot find a solution yourself. Stress is a severe problem, which can lead to serious health conditions. Recognize that you have a problem and seek professional help as soon as possible. If your work environment causes stress, and there is nothing you can do about it, talking to an expert can help you deal with the problem.

2. Identify Stressful Situations

Often our routine is full of things that stress us out. In this sense, you must identify these situations and work to change them – if possible. Your stress can be associated with the traffic, your job, or even your personal life.

Identifying the problem is the first step in finding the solution. Understand that stress is positive to some extent, so if your routine gives you stress daily, it is essential that you do something about it.

3. Consider Changing your Routine

This is possibly the most challenging tip of all. There are situations in life that demand change, and sometimes the action must come from ourselves. If you work in a toxic environment and can’t do anything about it, maybe it’s time to look for a new opportunity.

Remember that you are not obligated to deal with problematic people, especially when it compromises your health. You must have this mindset not only in the work environment but in your personal relationships. If you are dissatisfied with something, and it causes you daily frustration, consider looking another way.

Note: I recently quit a job when I realized the environment was starting to compromise my mental health. I worked for over 2 years in this company, made many friends, was promoted twice, and still, I decided to leave. I understood that there were only two paths for me in that company: either I would accept to live in that routine, or I would have to resign myself. In this sense, I understood that that toxic culture was bigger than me, and it would possibly take years to change. The two questions you should ask yourself are: Am I willing to hang in there for the next months or years? Am I willing to wait for the change? If the answer to one of these questions is no, it is a sign that you will probably have to look for a new path. Do not be afraid to be happy!

4. Exercise and Eat Well

We’ve talked several times in other articles that your lifestyle is directly associated with how you perform throughout your life. Physical activities and even what you eat can be responsible for helping you manage stress.

While exercise releases hormones that make you feel good, the food ensure that your body is nourished and satisfied throughout the day. This means that by eating poorly or skipping meals, you will naturally put your body in a state of stress. Ever notice how your mood swings when you’re hungry?

Work to improve your lifestyle, reduce stressful activities, and acquire healthy habits that fight stress if possible.

5. Take it Easy

Remember, you are a human. We all make mistakes and get them right all the time, but we must know how to recognize when we are not well. Keep in mind that everyone experiences problems throughout their lives, but nothing is definitive.

In this sense, it is essential to forgive yourself – and others – when something goes wrong, in addition to seeing your own limitations. Take it easy with yourself and always put your health first. If something doesn’t do you good, take it out of your routine.

If you feel easily stressed, try to include activities that give you pleasure or calm you down throughout your week. Work on your weaknesses! Don’t blame yourself for feeling stressed, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you’re not managing to solve your problems independently.

Life can be difficult at times, but it is also beautiful when we understand that everyone has their ups and downs!

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