What are the side effects of stress
Stress is detrimental to both your physical health and your mental well being. It impedes your ability to make rational decisions. Some people have such high-stress levels they can barely function on a day to day basis.
Stress has been linked to several diseases including cancer and heart disease. Too much can cause your heart to work overtime. It can make you gain weight, look older than you are, and cause a breakdown of your immune system making you more susceptible to things like colds and infections. It can also cause gastrointestinal problems. There isn’t enough Tums in the world to handle the stomach issues stress causes.
The American Institute of Stress (this is a real organization) states that:
- 77% of people regularly experience symptoms caused by stress including fatigue, headache, stomach upset, muscle tension, change in appetite, dizziness and a change in sex drive.
- 73% regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress including irritability, anger, lack of energy and a feeling like they could cry.
I was shocked when I saw these numbers and how large the percentages are. This is a significant problem.
Now that you know the effects of stress on the body and mind lets look at ways to control it.
How to Deal with Stress
Determine what causes your stress
How can you begin to overcome stress if you can’t properly determine what is causing you to feel the way you do? What you’re thinking and how you’re feeling can also contribute to your level of stress. Does the fact that winter is coming (not in a Game Of Thrones way) and you still have your pool uncovered have you “on edge”? Maybe it’s not the pool freezing that is causing you to worry as much as the fact that you dragged your feet in getting the work done. You procrastinated again!
Recognize what causes your stress. How do you feel when it happens, how do you react and what do you do to shake yourself from the feeling? In order to help yourself, you need to recognize the cause and the feelings related to the cause. From there you can work on ways to prevent it.
Exercise can help many facets of life. Besides the obvious physical benefits, it can do wonders for your mental state. The rush of endorphins helps put you in a better state of mind almost instantly (once you get over the pain your muscles are experiencing). Along with exercise you also need better sleep and nutrition habits. If you don’t get enough sleep and eat poorly you can’t possibly be at the top of your game. You will be continually sluggish.
Try to cut down on booze, cigarettes, and coffee. Yes, I said coffee. Adding caffeine ( a stimulant) will only increase stress levels. Drink clear liquids like water. (not vodka, and don’t lie. You were thinking that!)
Manage your time better
Nothing contributes more to stress than poor time management skills. We all know a person who is perpetually late. Think about this person. Typically they are frazzled, always running around cluelessly, and constantly stressed. Why add to your anxiety level when you can easily improve your time management skills?
Something as simple as leaving earlier can illeviate the stress a person has of being late.
Communicate your feelings
Talking to someone you trust can help in so many ways. This person doesn’t have to be someone who is going to take your stress away. They just need to be a person you can speak freely to who will listen and lend support. Sometimes just the mere act of talking will alleviate stress. It allows you to discuss your feelings, explain why you are felling a certain way and talk through solutions.
Don’t be ashamed to speak to a professional counselor as well if you feel it necessary. Speaking to a psychologist or psychiatrist can work wonders for you. They can provide you with the necessary tools to help you when you’re feeling “out of sorts”.
Take control of the situation before it gets out of hand. Think of all the possible scenarios and outcomes and prepare yourself for them. Proactively working through solutions will make you more confident and thereby cut down stress levels.
It’s OK to say no if you have too much on your plate. You can’t do it all and expect to perform at a high level mentally and physically. Something has to give. Learn to say no when you feel it’s necessary but don’t use this as a crutch all the time.
Relax or meditate
Find your quick stress reliever
There will be times when you need to be able to find a quick way to relieve your stress, right on the spot! Sometimes it may be just a matter of taking a few deep breaths or listening to a piece of music or reciting some sort of “mantra” under your breath. Whatever it is, find it and remember it. There will be points in life when you will be called upon to use that quick stress reliever and you need to be ready.
Think of it as the bottom of the ninth inning, bases loaded in Game 7 of the World Series. Your team has a one-run lead, there are two outs and the phone rings in the bullpen for you to come in. How are you going to relieve the stress of this situation immediately? You can’t pick up the phone and call your mom or sibling to talk through it. You need to be ready!
Everyone reacts differently to stress. Some seem to thrive in these types of situations where others flounder. I’ve learned that the people who thrive have merely mastered how to deal with stress in their life. They manage it and don’t let it manage them.
How do you deal with stress? Comment below with actions that work for you.