Stress is different things to different people. It’s also different things at different times to the same person. In other words, stress is very individual, and whether something becomes a stressor to you depends on a variety of variables and with so many sources of stress, it is difficult to find time to relax and disengage. This is why stress is one of the biggest health problems facing people today.
Chronic stress increases the risk of developing health problems including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a weakened immune system. Chronic stress also affects a person’s mental health. When someone is under chronic stress, it begins to negatively affect his or her physical and mental health. The body’s stress response was not made to be continuously engaged. Many people encounter stress from multiple sources, including work; money, health, and relationship worries; and media overload.
7 Tips to Tame Your Stress Monsters
Breathe. Perform diaphragmatic or “deep breathing” exercises. One way is to lie face down on the floor and begin breathing deeply and slowly, with your hands resting under your face. Do this for five minutes.
Meditate. Use visualization or guided imagery to help you learn to be one with your thoughts. Sit quietly with your eyes closed, imagining the sights, sounds and smells of your favorite place, such as a beach or mountain retreat.Set aside a time every day to work on relaxation.
Get a hobby. Exercise regularly, take up yoga or make time for music, art or other hobbies that help relax and distract you.
Talk to your family and friends. See if they can help. Research has shown that having a close, confiding relationship protects you from many stresses.
Make a list. Include all of the important things you need to handle each day. Try to follow the list so you feel organized and on top of things. Put together a coping plan step by step so you have a sense of mastery. This also helps you focus on the fact that you’re keeping track of and managing those as well as you can.
Be aware of your body’s signals. By keeping an eye on things that might suggest you’re not coping well. For example, are you smoking or drinking more, or sleeping less? Learn to identify and monitor stressors. Aim for seven to nine hours a night of sleep. Come up with an organized plan for handling stressful situations. Be careful not to overgeneralize negative reactions to things.
Avoid toxic habits. Control usage of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, junk food, binge eating and other drugs as your primary means for coping with stress. While they can be helpful once in awhile, using them as your only or usual method will result in longer-term problems, such as weight problems or alcoholism.