Stress hormones are the same ones that trigger our body’s “fight or flight” response. This response was designed to protect us in an emergency by helping our bodies react quickly. It has a purpose and is not necessarily a bad thing as it can save your life. However, long-term stress can be dangerous for our health.
Harmful Effects of Stress
It all starts in the brain. The hypothalamus tells your adrenal glands to release the two stress hormones: adrenaline and cortisol and they get the party going. For some people, stress makes them irritable, short-tempered, or unable to focus. Others have trouble sleeping as their mind is overwhelmed with racing thoughts, the so-called monkey brain. Then some react by eating junk food- desserts are stressed spelled backward after all. Either way, it does us no good, and it can make us prone to various health issues:
2. Increased depression as you feel worn out
3. High blood pressure
4. Greater risk of diabetes as it causes our liver to release extra glucose which equates to sugar into the blood
6. Heart attack – increased heart rate and high blood pressure damaged arteries.
7. Fertility problems and hormonal imbalance (missed or irregular periods)
8. Erectile dysfunction and low sex drive – the brain plays an essential part in this process. Stress takes a toll even on the libido front.
9. Stomach-ache due to increased acid reflux
10. The weakened immune system as stress depletes its defense
11. Insomnia – harder to fall asleep and stay asleep
Common Reasons Why We Stress and Ways to Cope
Despite being something, everyone experiences, what causes stress can differ from person to person. For instance, one person may become angry and overwhelmed by a severe traffic jam. Simultaneously, another might consider it a mild inconvenience as they enjoy the music on the radio.
According to the American Psychological Association, money is the top cause of stress in the United States. The financial burden can take months or years to dig out from. However, we can alleviate this distress by implementing simple money management techniques. The best place to start is budgeting. Tracking your expenses will not ensure you have sufficient money to meet your obligations and needs, but it will also identify areas where you could save. For example, you could spot that your electricity bill is too high. With so many American Power and Light providers out there, it is easier than ever to get a better rate that suits your usage. You could end up saving hundreds of dollars, especially if you make your home more energy-friendly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 40 percent of Americans report their jobs are stressful. Then some people cause stress, as it could be a family member or a co-worker as toxic people can be found everywhere. Your personality could also be a cause for anxiety as perfectionists tend to bring unnecessary stress onto themselves with their high standards.
All of us also have day-to-day stressors such as misplacing keys or running late. The list never seems-ending! However, the good news is that it is possible to manage stress and prevent it from ruining your life.
Relaxation Techniques to Practice for a Healthy Mind
Relaxation is a process that eases the effects of stress on your mind and body. Whether your stress is getting out of hand or you have already got it tamed, you can benefit from learning relaxation techniques. The best part is that they are easy, free, they pose little risk, and you can do them pretty much anywhere and anytime. Below is a list of some of the most effective relaxation techniques:
Autogenic Relaxation is a medically approved relaxation technique of self-hypnosis where you encourage the natural relaxation response in your body by training yourself to slow down your breathing, lower blood pressure, and, ultimately, produce a feeling of well-being.
a). Progressive Muscle Relaxation is about focusing on slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle group as you go through your whole body. You can also start with deep breathing – you will be surprised to learn that most of us breathe incorrectly!
b). Visualization is a technique of taking a visual journey to a peaceful, calming place, or situation. Besides these mental images, the idea is to include as many senses as you can, such as smell and sound.
c). Practice Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or Yoga that combine the use of deep breathing with a series of movements or poses designed to promote a calm mind and a relaxed body.
d). Aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years as even ancient cultures know that essential oils have potent physical, mental, and emotional properties.
If one relaxation technique does not work for you, just try another one. A simple message or a meditation could even do the trick. Each one of us is different, so the first task on your stress-free journey list is to find the time to get to know yourself better!