Stress can be a positive aspect of our lives.  It can keep us focused, alert, and at the top of our game.  However, too much pressure can be detrimental to our health.  Good stress is short-lived and infrequent and pushes you out of your comfort zone.  Applying for a new job, or learning a new skill or sport can constitute as good stress.  On the other hand, bad stress lasts a long time; it is chronic, ongoing, and can result in an inflammatory effect on the body.  Chronic bad stress can occur when overcoming injuries or disease, the death of a loved one, divorce, or financial strain.  That being said, when stress is too low, you can become undetermined, bored, and unfocused.  A balanced life of stress allows for growth and success while maintaining happiness and health. 

Stress is usually a physical response to mental pressure.  When you are stressed your body switches to “fight or flight” mode, releasing neurotransmitters and hormones that cause your heart to beat faster and elevate your blood pressure.  The challenge is when our body goes into a state of stress in inappropriate situations.  When blood flow is going only to the most critical muscles needed to fight or flight, brain function is minimized.  This can lead to an inability to think straight, emotional imbalance, and insomnia, which can result in a great hindrance in both our work and home lives.  If we are in a state of stress for long periods, it can result in elevated cortisol levels leading to inflammation, increase in blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and poor quality of life. 

Our reaction to stress depends on the kind of stress it is, how prepared we are to meet it, and how we view it.  Some people go with the flow and can adapt well to what others would regard as highly stressful events.  Other people crumble at even the slightest challenge or frustration they encounter.  Identifying the cause of stress can help to strategize a plan to overcome the obstacle.  Begin by writing down what’s on your mind, what your mood is like, and what is causing you to feel anxious.  This can help to accept the situation instead of fighting it and can help you feel a sense of relief. 

In addition, to manage stress, you must make time for yourself.  Finding a balance to maintain your commitments as well as time for yourself may be difficult at first.  Personal time helps you to rejuvenate and lead to a healthier and happier you.  During your personal time, adapt some of the tips to your daily routine:

  • Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress.  Exercise can help relieve mental stress by reducing cortisol levels and releasing endorphins.  Try to find an activity you enjoy, such as hiking, dancing or yoga.
  • Practice relaxation techniques.  Tai chi, qi gong, yoga, meditation and deep breathing can help your body relax and make you feel calm.  Aromatherapy is also a form of relaxation.   Try taking a soothing bath with a few drops of essential oils, such as lavender.
  • Sleep is the body’s natural way of restoring and rejuvenating itself.  A good night’s rest helps in lessening stress levels.  If you are having trouble sleeping for the generally recommended seven to eight hours per night, there are natural options such as acupuncture and herbal therapies to help.
  • Spending time with loved ones is a fantastic way of handling stress and can greatly alleviate it.  Take time for activities that create laughter and community, and remember your purpose in life. 

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