Do money, work or family problems keep you awake at night? Do you suffer from headaches or stomach pain often? Do you commonly feel fatigued, and become overwhelmed thinking about all the responsibilities you feel you can't stay on top of? Then you're likely part of the 77 percent of people who regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress, according to the American Psychological Association.
Stress is hurting you from the inside out
Everyone experiences acute feelings of stress from time to time. However, when you feel stressed regularly, you are at an increased risk of developing health issues.
According to the APA, chronic stress can contribute to heart problems due to a continuously elevated heartbeat and increased blood pressure. Prolonged stress can also put too much demand on your respiratory, nervous and gastrointestinal systems, potentially causing rapidness of breath, a weak immune system and stomach ulcers. And when you feel stressed, your body produces the hormone cortisol, of which large amounts can harm you over time.
Decreasing stress levels
It's vital that people learn stress management techniques to help them reduce their chances of developing chronic stress and thus damaging their mental and physical well-being.
Here are some techniques for reducing stress:
- Get enough sleep: Sleep gives the body and brain time to repair and recharge. Studies show that a lack of sleep can cause cortisol levels to spike the next day.
- Monitor yourself: When you feel stressed, you often tighten your muscles, clench your jaw and breathe shallowly and quickly without realizing it. Look out for these physical signs of inner distress and relax your muscles or steady your breathing.
- Meditate: Meditating for even a few minutes, once a day can help you collect your thoughts and center yourself.
- Think positively: When you feel overwhelmed, step back and take a deep breath. Make a mental list of what you are grateful for in your life.
- Exercise: Physical exercise can get those feel-good endorphins flowing and flush out the bad ones.
These methods are great tools for helping you deal with and reduce feelings of stress in your life.