Stress is a normal response to difficult life experiences. However, too much stress can cause anxiety, affect your physical health, and increase your risk of developing diseases.
It has been a stressful year for everyone, but our team at Monarque Health & Wellness in Ashland, Oregon, is here to help you cope. By keeping your stress under control, not only can you improve your mood, you can prevent diseases before they form.
Health costs of stress
When you experience something stressful, such as a health issue, a change in employment, or other life circumstances, your body releases hormones such as cortisol to prime you to take action.
While this can be helpful when you’re facing a stressful challenge like an exam or job interview, it can be exhausting for your body to remain in stress mode over long periods of time.
Stress can cause a number of immediate symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, stomach problems, increased heart rate, irritability, and anxiety. However, stress also has long-term health effects, among them increasing your risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, ulcers, and heartburn.
That’s why it’s so important to keep your stress under control. However, you have a number of simple ways to manage your stress.
Eat well and stay active
You probably already know that eating well and staying active are the foundations for a healthy life, but did you know that diet and exercise can also help you manage your stress?
While it’s normal to crave comfort food when you’re stressed, foods with simple sugars and starches (such as ice cream, cookies, french fries, and chips) can actually spike your blood sugar and leave you feeling worse when your blood sugar drops. Choosing healthy snacks such as nuts and fruit can help you avoid these blood sugar drops.
Additionally, exercise is known to reduce stress and boost your mood by encouraging your body to release endorphins. These natural feel-good chemicals can help you recover from a stressful day at work and can help protect your body from the negative effects of stress by flushing out your stress hormones.
Avoid coping with caffeine and alcohol
While it’s normal to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning to improve your focus at work or have a relaxing glass of wine in the evening, it’s important to avoid overusing these substances.
Excess caffeine can make it harder for you to get a restful night’s sleep, while the risks of excess alcohol range from impaired judgment to liver problems.
Reach out to loved ones
Having a good support network can be invaluable when it comes to coping with stress. Talking through your problems with a friend can help, but even just enjoying shared activities with others can help you relax.
Talking to a mental health professional, a support hotline, or a peer support group can help as well. Even when you feel alone, reaching out to others can remind you that you have support.
Try meditation, mindfulness, or other relaxing self-care techniques
Meditation and mindfulness practices can help you notice early signs of stress and anxiety and help you cope with them. Meditation encourages you to focus on the present and gain a new perspective on your stress.
While the idea of meditating may sound intimidating, it can also be as simple as focusing on breathing deeply.
If meditation doesn’t suit you, try other forms of mindfulness, such as focusing on sounds around you or going on a nature walk. The important thing is to find something that brings you joy and helps you relax.
If you’re struggling to cope with stress this year, you’re not alone. Give our team a call at 541-326-4777 or book an in-person appointment or virtual visit today.