Over the past few months our daily stressors have increased. With restrictions being implemented, grocery shortages, and job uncertainty - it’s no wonder that what was once our list of things to worry about, has now turned into 18 pages front and back! In this post we will explore how stress can impact you and ways to reduce/manage the impact on your body and mind!
It’s important to know how stress impacts us physically, mentally and our relationship with those around us. For some people, chronic stress increases the risk of developing depression and anxiety, and in some severe circumstances, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Stress causes physical changes in the body such as increased heart rate and breathing, short-term memory becomes more effective, improved thinking skills and muscles tense up. This is because we are tapping into our natural fight or flight response. In short bursts, stress can actually have some benefits. However, prolonged exposure to the stressor(s) causes the body to be unable to return to its normal state, negatively impacting our memory, attention and the way we process emotions. This long-term stress can contribute to both physical and mental illness through effects on the heart, immune and metabolic functions, and hormones acting on the brain.
It's important to equip yourself with skills/methods to reduce and manage stress. Below are some great ways to do so!
- Exercise – exercise lowers your body’s stress hormones in the long run, and releases endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers
- Lighting a Candle/Essential Oils – using essential oils or burning a scented candle may help reduce stress and anxiety. Some of the most calming scents include; lavender, rose, vetiver, bergamot, roman chamomile, neroli, frankincense, sandalwood, ylang ylang, orange or orange blossom and geranium
- Write It Down – jot down what you are stressed about and also jot down what you are grateful for!
- Laugh – watch a funny video, share jokes/memes that make you laugh with your friends and family
- Learn to say NO – not all stressors are in your control, but for the ones that are take control and say no to excess responsibilities or ones that you know will be stressful. Be selective about what you take on.
- Practice Mindfulness – mindfulness are practices that anchor you to the present moment such as; mindfulness based cognitive therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, yoga and meditation
- Cuddle – give your loved ones (and your pets!) a cuddle, kiss or hug. Positive physical contact can help release oxytocin and lower cortisol
- Listen to Soothing Music – listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body
- Deep Breathing – deep breathing exercises can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response
Although you may not able to change your situation, you can certainly do things to change or manage your body’s response, helping you in the long run. When you find yourself stressing or even just worrying, come back to these skills/methods to help both your mental and physical health.
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