Take a Deep Breath: Combat Against Stress and Live Better

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Stress. We all deal with it, some more than others, and it can take an absolute toll on your body and overall health. Stress does so much more than cause anxiety and make everyday activities dreadful.

According to WebMD, “Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses.”

Whether it is a nagging boss, a tough professor, your social life, or something that is even more personal, stress is hard to avoid and can take over fast. It is a completely natural process for people to experience stress and react to it, but everyone is wired differently and therefore reacts differently.

When your body experiences any kind of stress, such as a sudden dangerous situation, your brain receives signals to become more alert and responsive. This is a similar response that occurs during an adrenaline rush, or fight-or-flight experience, and is a positive phenomenon because it can keep us safe and out of danger. However, when a person undergoes constant stress over a period of time, the body becomes overworked and response impulses become less effective.

Constant stress is the leading factor for those who experience  anxiety and depression. If that’s not bad enough, it has also been linked to the following health issues:

  • Chronic headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart problems
  • Poor skin health
  • Infertility in women
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Hair loss
  • Insomnia/sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss (the bad kind!)

Ways to Prevent and Combat Against Stress

If you feel like you may be in a stage of increased stress, or just want to prevent it at all cost, there are many things you can do to ease the process and start feeling more relaxed, happier, and healthier.

  • Take on a hobby: Getting your mind off of what is causing you stress is the best way to fight against it. Finding an activity that you can immerse yourself into and take out aggression, such as a sport, can temporarily completely dissolve stress. Participating in this activity on a daily basis, or as much as you can, has the ability to give your mind a complete 360 degree turn.
  • Stay Active: Not only can exercise and physical activity take our minds off stress, but it is actually proven to have an effect on the body that decreases stress, which can take care of all the other problems associated with it. The more vigorous you exercise, the better results you will get. Vigorous activities, or those that cause you to break a sweat and increase your heart rate, release endorphins, which are chemicals that give a sense of happiness and overall positivity.
  • Spend time with friends and family:  When we are stressed we can forget about the things that are most important to us. Try to set aside at least an hour of your day to spend time with those closest to you. If you don’t have time, make it. You may have forgotten about how happy these people actually make you.
  • Talk to someone you trust. Talking about our problems with other people is vital. However, many people are hesitant to do so because they are embarrassed or don’t want to be judged. Find someone you trust, and talk to them about what is stressing you out. It is proven that this can give us a great, big breath of “emotional air”, which can make you feel like a 100-ton load was taken off your chest.
  • Treat yourself. Go shopping and buy something awesome. Make a nice meal for you and a friend. Go watch a brand new movie. Take a hot bubble bath. Have a drink with a friend at the local bar. Get away from whatever it is that is causing you emotional pain and enjoy yourself. Life is suppose to be fun!