It sneaks up on you; following you around, taking control of your mind. It then roots itself in your body manifesting into disease. What are we talking about here? Stress.
Many people are unaware of chronic stress and the fact that it’s linked to the six leading causes of death in North America (American Psychological Association). Today, more than 75% of all physician visits are for stress-related conditions and complaints.
Stress is inevitable. You will experience some form of stress every day. Stress can be mental, emotional or physical and can affect your health on all aspects. When your body experiences stress, certain hormones are released instructing your body to go into either fight or flight mode. When this response to stress becomes a daily event for your body, serious health conditions can develop.
Most people believe they handle stress well and don’t experience it too often. Stress however can be an intense situation like a new diagnosis or grief of a passed loved one or as simple as getting stuck in traffic and running late for work. Your body can’t differentiate between the two; stress is stress no matter how simple or severe and can lead to negative subconscious habits such as stress-eating. How you cope with stress dictates who is in control: you or your stress.
Coping Mechanisms for Stress
Deep breathing – Taking a few deep breaths throughout the day (especially during times of high stress) can help alleviate the feeling of anxiety and exhaustion. Start with taking a deep breath to the count of 4 seconds, hold the breath for 4 seconds and then release it for another 4 seconds. Do this a minimum of five times focusing on each count and breath.
Journaling – Many people hold their emotions in and don’t have a way of releasing them. Journaling is a great way to let your thoughts out before bed so they don’t keep you up and can help you gain perspective on your situations. Make this more than just putting pen to paper. Buy a journal that appeals to you in texture and appearance. When you set out the time to journal, play some soft music, light a candle or diffuse some essential oils; truly make this journaling time your special time to unwind (even if just for ten minutes).
Speaking with someone – Whether it’s to a trusted friend or a therapist, speaking your thoughts out loud can reduce the amount of stress you’re holding onto (though it may seem intimidating at first). Everyone needs someone to speak to. Find a life coach or therapist that offers a free consultation so you can get the feel of speaking to someone and better understand your own needs as well as how a professional can help.
Exercise – Where the mind goes the body will follow and vice versa: where the body goes the mind will follow. If you work out you’ll feel great and if you feel great you’ll want to exercise more. Exercise not only releases happy hormones but also releases stress from the body and can change your perspective on situations in your daily life. This can also be a way for you to set out time for yourself to decompress from the day you’ve had. Even a quick but intense 20 minute workout or walk can really impact your mindset and body.
Music/Dance party – Music can be so therapeutic. A number of studies have proven the positive effects that music has on a person. We all have a favourite song that gets us grooving. Listening to music throughout the day and into the evening can promote a positive attitude. Doing a little jig or thirty-second dance party can really brighten your day and reduce stress!