Got Stress?



Don't we all.


According to the American Psychological Association (APA), "more than three-quarters of adults report physical or emotional symptoms of stress, such as headache, feeling tried or changes in sleeping habits."


That's more than 75% of American adults!


Studies show that stress is linked to cardiovascular disease and can cause existing problems to worsen.


Now, I'm stressed just reading about stress. How about you?


But there's no reason to panic, there are ways we can reduce our stress and create a more positive affect. Start by adding an activity you enjoy to your day, it can be as simple as giving yourself 5 minutes to enjoy a cup of tea in the morning or put a face mask on at night. It doesn't have to be a time-consuming activity.


Here are some other suggestions for reducing your stress:


  • Identify what’s causing stress: Start keeping track of moments when you feel stressed. What is happening, who is with you, your mood, etc.; this process can help you identify the factors that cause you stress. Start a "stress journal" to make the process easier and keep a record of your stress.


  • Try to eliminate the stressors: Once you identify your stressors, start eliminating them. APA says, "Evaluate whether you can change the situation that is causing you stress, perhaps by dropping some responsibility, relaxing your standards or asking for help."


  • Cultivate social support: It's important to have a strong social support system- friends and family that you can go to. A social support system can be both receiving and giving. Maybe one day you need to ask for help, then the next you're helping someone else. Keep relationships balanced- don't always be a giver (even if that is your natural instinct), sometimes givers need help too and that's OK.


  • Seek good nutrition: According to APA, "When confronted with a stressor, the central nervous system releases adrenaline and cortisol, which affects the digestive tract among other physiological changes. Acute stress can kill the appetite, but the release of the hormone cortisol during chronic stress can cause fat and sugar cravings." It's OK to have sweets and indulgent foods, but when you're stressed that consumption can increase, so it's important to take extra care during times of stress to make sure you are eating nutritious foods. Make sure to eat a balance of fruits and vegetables and don't shame yourself if you have that sweet!


  • Relax your muscles: Stress can cause muscles to tense, leading to backaches, neckaches, and tensions headaches. Try activities, like stretching or massages, to relieve muscles tension. Another technique is progressive muscle relaxation. Read more about that process here. You can also look for videos to guide you through it.


  • Meditate: Meditation is shown to reduce stress and anxiety. People often imagine meditation as a silence-vowed monk, sitting cross-legged in Tibet. But meditation can be as simple as a 5-minute breathing activity at your office desk. Some fitness trackers are even set up with a breathing/ mindfulness setting to walk you through it.


  • Protect your sleep: Lack of sleep affects both our cognition and our moods. So make sure you're getting a good amount of sleep. Tips for a good night routine include: meditation/ relaxation techniques, avoid caffeine and alcohol in the afternoon and evening, turn off tv and phone screens, exercise during the day.


  • Get physical: Getting our bodies moving contributes to better sleep, reduced stress, and overall health. APA says, "In one study, working adults who participated in moderate physical activity had half the perceived stress as working adults who did not participate." Physical activity doesn't have to be a hard-core work out at the gym. Go for a walk or do a 15-minute workout video, just move!


  • Take a moment in nature: There are studies that show nature can improve your mood. In fact, there is a whole field of psychology called Ecopsychology, that focuses on the effects of nature in relation to psychology. Get outside, or bring nature inside with house plants, and take moment to connect.


  • Keep your pleasurable activities: Life can be busy and we often find ourselves cutting activities to make time for other responsibilities. But, it's important to keep activities that bring us joy.


  • Reframe your thinking: According to APA, "One of the most research-supported treatments for stress and anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. At the root of this therapy approach is the understanding that our thoughts influence our emotions, which in turn influences our behaviors." Changing the way we think about a stressor can ultimately change our reaction to it.


  • Seek help: Stress is part of our everyday lives, but if it is causing your severe distress, please seek help from a license mental health professional. They can provide you with the best tools to manage your stress.


Hope this help you all reduce your stress!


Leave a comment and let me know what you do to relieve your stress.


-Alexis


photo cred: wix media


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