These days, it’s easy to find yourself stressed out and in desperate need of some relief. With the modern workforce being full of pressures, along with the demands of running a household and family, it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed at times and wish for some kind of stress relief.
Being able to spot stress triggers as soon as you’re confronted with them and take immediate action is key to managing and relieving your stress.
Stress Effects on the Body
When stress is not dealt with properly, it can manifest inside the body and cause damage to all of the body’s necessary functions. When you find yourself in a situation that causes stress, your body’s immediate reaction becomes one of “fight-or-flight,” where your body releases hormones that increase your blood pressure and heart rate in an effort to deal with the stress.
This change can wreak havoc on both your mental and physical health, causing a range of symptoms:
- Muscle tension/aches
- Chest pain
- Upset stomach
- Sleep problems/insomnia
- Irritability or anger
- Changes in sex drive
Eventually, these symptoms can progress and cause diseases like:
- Heart disease
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Eating disorders
Stress can often worsen or increase the risk of these kinds of health conditions, which is why it’s important to recognize what your stress triggers are and find ways to manage them before those triggers cause a bigger problem.
In general, stress can be divided into two types: acute and chronic. Acute stress is often related to a single stressful event, such as a job interview or taking a driving test. Your reaction to the stress is immediate and often short-lived. Once the stressful experience is over, you go back to your healthy, non-stressful routine.
When stress is chronic, the stressful experiences you’re encountering are often persistent and happen on a day-to-day basis. This kind of stress is the kind that leads to some of the diseases mentioned above.
Knowing what causes stress in your life is the first step to finding some relief and preventing many of the health conditions that result from stress. Some common stress triggers include:
Major Life Changes
Marriage, pregnancy, moving to a new home, or the death of a loved one are all examples of common life changes that can cause stress. It may be surprising to know that positive changes, like marriage, can cause stress, but mentally adapting to any new situation (good or bad) can cause stress in the body.
Maybe there’s that dog that is always barking next door, or maybe there’s an erratic driver next to you on your commute to work, but these kinds of external stressors can definitely make you angry, frustrated, and anxious, common symptoms of stress.
Have you ever opened up your mailbox to find a new bill you weren’t expecting? Or maybe your in-laws showed up without any fair warning and your house is a complete mess. These sort of unpredictable events can definitely trigger stress in the body as you mentally have not prepared yourself for these situations.
The office, or the workplace, can be a major stressor for many. Everything from a demanding boss to endless emails can cause incredible stress. In fact, it’s been found that job stress is the major source of stress for American adults, and only continues to escalate each decade that passes.
Even if you’re a social butterfly, stress can be triggered by social situations. Stress isn’t always a result of meeting new people or speaking in front a large group of people. Stress can result from disputes with a partner or drama between friends and family.
Managing Your Stress and Finding Stress Relief
Once you’re able to figure out what situations or experiences are causing stress in your life, you can begin to manage your stress and find some relief.
Depending on what your source of stress is, you can try a variety of techniques and practices to bring about some relief:
Exercise has a direct effect on stress by reducing stress hormones and stimulating the release of endorphins in the body, also known as the feel-good hormones. Whether you get on the treadmill or go for a scenic hike out in nature, physical activity can do wonders for relieving stress.
Practicing mindful meditation, tai chi, massage, and other relaxation techniques can help you control your breathing so as to lower your heart rate and blood pressure. This can be especially helpful for relieving tension headaches due to stress.
Keeping an Open Mind and a Sense of Humor
Accepting that life throws us curveballs and that sometimes there can be a silver lining or some humor in the obstacles we face can be effective in how you react to stressful situations. Keeping an open mind and having a sense of humor can keep you from getting worked up over a situation that doesn’t have to be stressful.
If your cause of stress isn’t from family or friends, socializing with them more often can actually help you find stress relief. Similar to the effects of exercise, socializing with family and friends can increase positive energy in the body and will also help you shift your focus away from the thoughts that do cause stress.
Find a Hobby
Did you know that there are coloring books created for adults as a part of “creative stress therapy?” That’s because having a creative outlet, such as painting or playing an instrument, can be incredibly relaxing and has similar effects as relaxation practices like yoga, which aim to shift your focus and clear your mind of stressful thoughts.
If you’re looking for more stress-relieving techniques, check out our article 6 Morning-Magic Rituals to Ease Stress and Improve Confidence
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Griffin, R. M. (n.d.). 10 Health Problems Related to Stress That You Can Fix. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/features/10-fixable-stress-related-health-problems#1
Identify your stress triggers. (2016, April 28). Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-management/art-20044151?pg=2
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