The Ultimate Stress Survival Guide: What You Need to Know
We live busy lives, and sometimes the expectations from our job, families, social lives and society at large can leave us feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and unable to cope.
There are many causes for chronic stress, and everyone will notice different stress symptoms.
One-third of Americans live with extreme stress, and 50% of Americans say their stress levels have increased over the past five years.
What Is Stress?
The stress definition is: feeling like you are in a state of emotional strain due to external circumstances. Stress is your body's reaction to danger, whether that is real or perceived.
Your body responds to stressful circumstances by releasing cortisol and adrenaline; this is often referred to as fight or flight mode. When we were still hunter-gatherers, our bodies released these hormones to alert us to the need to save our lives.
These days we are mostly never in immediate danger of death; other factors can cause the body to activate the cortisol response and make us feel stressed.
There are three main types of stress:
- Chronic stress - ongoing stress caused by emotional challenges
- Acute stress - the body's immediate reaction to an event or challenge
- Episodic acute stress - when you experience acute stress regularly
What Causes Stress?
There are a vast number of triggers for stress. Acute stress may happen when you have an event to run or a deadline at work; the immediacy of these challenges can make you feel stressed. However, when the challenge is over, you'll go back to feeling normal.
Episodic acute stress occurs when you regularly feel acute stress. This may happen because you have a lot of things in your life which put you under pressure. It could be your job or your family that make you feel stress often.
Chronic or long-term stress is a result of emotional turmoil and long-term worries. If you are worried about your employment situation, finances, family illness, or relationship troubles, this can cause you chronic stress.
What Are Stress Symptoms?
Stress can manifest in both mental and physical symptoms. Acute stress causes your heart to beat faster, your breathing to become shallow, and your muscles to tighten.
You can feel like you're under pressure to get things done, and like there's not enough time in the day. You may feel sad, angry, frustrated, or worried.
Other physical symptoms include digestion issues, loss or increase of appetite, loss of desire, headaches, and rashes on your skin. You may also experience acne, and regular bouts of illness as stress can weaken your immune system.
You may also find it difficult to sleep, find mental clarity and make decisions.
Chronic stress can lead to long-term health issues and even increase your risk of heart disease.
Survival Guide For Coping With Stress
There's no formal solution to coping with stress, but you can enlist some great strategies to help you. Here are some suggestions to follow for stress relief:
Find the Root Cause of the Stress
You need to recognize you are feeling stressed and cut yourself some slack. When you are busy and stressed, it can feel hard to slow down to deal with whatever is causing it.
Take a look at your life and try to understand what is causing you to feel stressed. If you can establish the root cause, you can then work towards fixing it.
Don't Blame Yourself
It can feel easy to blame yourself for feeling stressed but remember it's caused by external factors. Recognizing this and being kind to yourself are essential realizations for coping with your stress.
Understand Your Emotions
Are you feeling anger, anxiety, frustration, grief? Do you have regular mood swings? If you can understand how you are feeling, it can make finding a solution to your stress easier.
Understanding what you feel can help you develop positive coping mechanisms and make decisions to change your situation.
Ask yourself if leaving a job or relationship, or city will make you feel less stressed. Be honest with yourself. Sometimes we need to make difficult decisions to protect our mental wellbeing.
Looking after your physical health during times of stress can help support your mental health too. What we eat has a significant impact on how we feel.
It can feel comforting to reach for heavily processed foods high in fat or sugar when we're stressed. However, these will make you feel worse in the long term.
These foods all contain stress-busting properties that can help you feel better when under pressure.:
- Sweet potatoes
- Sunflower seeds
The nutrients in these foods can help to support the body to feel less stressed.
You should also make sure you get enough vitamin D. Studies show that low levels of vitamin D can be linked to depression and anxiety.
Not resting is detrimental to both your physical and mental health. When you can't sleep, it causes stress, but lack of sleep can be because you are stressed! It's a vicious cycle that's hard to get out of.
Try to optimize your bedtime routine to make it as stress-free as possible. Turn off your TV, phone, and computer at least an hour before bed and wind down with a book.
Make your bedroom calm by lighting a candle or burning some incense. Listen to calming music or a guided meditation. These simple steps can help you wind down after a busy day and get in the zone for a good night's rest.
Try to sleep for at least 7-9 hours to maximize your brain's chance to recharge.
One of the most common stress-busting prescriptions is physical activity. There's nothing like blowing away the cobwebs and getting some headspace with a workout.
Exercise is scientifically proven to reduce fatigue, improve concentration and reduce stress through the endorphins it releases.
Endorphins are the chemicals in your brain that fight cortisol and act as a natural remedy to stress.
Find a type of exercise you enjoy and try to do it at least three times a week as it will have a hugely positive impact on your stress levels.
Do Breathing Exercises
The power the breath can have over the mind is astounding. Taking part in simple breathing exercises, even just 5 minutes a day, can calm your mind and give you more clarity.
When you take deep breaths, your brain produces endorphins, much like when you do exercise. Breathing exercises also slow down your heart rate, which can help your feel much calmer.
Try taking a deep inhale for 5 seconds, hold the breath in for 5 seconds, and release slowly with a sigh. Repeat 5-10 times.
Take Time For Yourself
The weight of the world can all seem a little too much to all of us at times. Make sure you always schedule in time to look after yourself.
Whether that's getting out in nature for a walk or spending time doing an activity you love, like drawing or writing, these are great ways to feel calm and decrease stress levels.
Talk to People
Getting your problems out into the world can feel like a massive relief. Talk through your anxieties with a trusted friend or family member. Talking it out can help you feel heaps better.
Your loved ones may have been there themselves and be able to guide you through some actionable steps.
Take Time Out
Taking time out from your regular life can help you gain clarity and see things differently. If possible, try to take a few days vacation from your job.
Go to a new place, get out in nature (it doesn't need to be expensive), and spend time doing activities different from your everyday norm. You may feel you return feeling re-energized, with new perspectives, and ready to make some positive changes in your life.
See a Doctor or Therapist
If none of these tips seem to help, you can always talk to a professional about your problems. Doctors and therapists know how to advise on different variations of stress. They will give you expert advice, whether that's medication or another solution.
Recognize Stress To Manage It
The first step in managing stress is recognizing that you feel it. Take your time to look at your lifestyle to understand why you feel the way you do.
Feeling stressed doesn't have to ruin your life. Use the tips in this survival guide to help you lead a happier, healthier, stress-free life.
Try a supplement like NuMedica 5-HTP designed to help healthy brain function and promote serotonin production for stress, sleep, and mood support.
Jay Todtenbier is an original founder of SupplementRelief.com in 2010 and has operated the business ever since. He is also a tennis instructor and gospel musician. Formerly he spent 25 years in business development, technology and marketing with startups and major corporations having gone through the tech boom in Silicon Valley in the 90s. He became passionate about, and began studying and practicing Wellness as a Lifestyle after experiencing chronic, personal health challenges including depression, auto-immune disorders, and being overweight that impacted his ability to live a healthy, vibrant life. Since then, he has been an advocate for healthier living encouraging others to live better through making small, gradual changes to lifestyle behaviors relating to whole-foods nutrition, stress management, reasonable exercise, proper sleep, and the use of targeted, high-quality supplements.
Learn more about Jay Todtenbier.
We encourage you to take advantage of these FREE Wellness Resources on our website.
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The information, knowledge, and experience shared on this website is the opinion of SupplementRelief.com. This site and its content is intended to enhance your knowledge base as YOU MAKE YOUR OWN HEALTHCARE DECISIONS in partnership with your qualified health professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products referred to are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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