We live in a very stressful world these days – as most people are aware. The pressures of work, society, finances, and family relationships can all build up until they are overwhelming, and keeping a healthy balance of these things is a tricky process, but absolutely essential. Being stressed for long periods of time can be majorly detrimental to your health, affecting all areas of the body, and reducing your ability to deal with day-to-day life. It can affect you both physically and mentally in a number of different ways.
Stress can negatively impact on almost every part of your body. It tends to make you tense your muscles and keep them tensed, and this often causes back pain or headaches.
Being stressed can also stop you from sleeping well, because you feel unable to switch off or let go of whatever is worrying you. Lack of sleep then increases your chance of headaches, and decreases your ability to handle the tasks which will help you relax.
It may also lead to issues like overeating. Eating releases endorphins that make us feel better, so eating is often a means of temporarily reducing stress, though the weight gain which follows also has negative health impacts. Alternatively, stress could lead to under-eating if you feel demotivated or too pressed for time. Excessive weight loss, just like weight gain, is not healthy.
Long-term stress can also cause sexual health problems, lowering testosterone levels in men, and causing irregular, painful periods for women.
The mental impacts of stress are considerable, and often tie into the physical ones. If you suffer from lethargy as a result of stress, you are unlikely to feel inspired to cook yourself healthy meals. If you are anxious, you are unlikely to be able to sleep.
Stress can prevent you from focusing, reducing your ability to work and handle everyday pressures. Feeling overwhelmed may stop you from exercising, looking after yourself, or making time to relax and spend time with friends and family. “It makes it very difficult to approach problems with a positive mindset, and even small challenges can feel overwhelming if you are already stressed and anxious. When your resilience has already been stretched, very minor issues appear insurmountable” says Leon Galloway, a health writer at Boomessays and Essayroo.
You might become more vulnerable to temptations such as drugs and excessive alcohol intake. You may find you depend on a few glasses of wine to relax in the evening, or you may itch for a cigarette. Being stressed makes it harder to focus on healthy habits.
Minimize Your Stress
With all this in mind, it’s essential to find ways to manage your stress, and to reduce it whenever possible. The first aspect of this is learning to recognize signs that you are feeling stressed, so you can find ways to counteract the feeling.
There are lots of ways to manage and reduce your stress. One of these is exercising regularly. Set yourself a routine and stick to it, not allowing other commitments to interfere. Exercising will help you reduce muscle tension and will make you feel good, as well as improving your physical health.
Tying in with exercising regularly, try out some meditation techniques and some relaxing stretching. “These are even easier to slot into your daily life as you can often do them for ten minutes at your desk, or for a brief period before you go to sleep. Practising deep breathing may help improve your sleep and leave you feeling more rested” explains Mary Hill, a blogger at Academized and Australian reviewer.
Make sure you also have time to pursue hobbies outside of work which give you a boost. Socialize with friends, paint, read, play music, and visit interesting places to take your mind off work and other issues. Try to choose active methods, rather than passive ones such as watching TV, which serves more as a distraction than as a removal from stress. By actively putting yourself in a different environment and focusing on other things, you will return to problems much more refreshed, and feel capable of actually handling them.
Good stress management is essential to keep yourself healthy and fit in a fast-paced world. Pay attention to your levels of stress, know yourself well enough to recognize when you are too stressed, or have been stressed for a long period of time, and take action to tackle the issues.