Stress and Your Body
Maybe you just recently…
Had a baby?
Lost a loved one?
Graduated from college?
Moved to a new house?
Went through a divorce?
Started a new job?
Did you know that stress can come from positive OR negative sources in your life?
Anytime you encounter a source of stress your body reacts physically. Some of these responses to stress can include:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Heart palpitations
- Increased heart rate
- Changes in breathing patterns
- Muscle tension
- Stomach cramps
- Skin conditions
- Diabetes Symptoms
- Acid Reflux
Unfortunately, the sudden onset of any of these conditions can quickly become a source of anxiety and greatly impact your quality of life. Stress is a normal part of life and almost impossible to avoid. Recognizing the condition as a source of stress can help you learn what you can do to help alleviate symptoms.
Rather than stress out over those things you can’t control turn your focus to those things you can.
Here are some great tips to help you relax and manage stress effectively
Yes! Really! Ever notice how tense you are when you are stressed out? Sometimes you forget to breathe. When you tense up, your muscles are tightened and these muscles in the chest, shoulders and stomach area all restrict the flow of oxygen into the lungs. This makes your breathing very shallow and doesn’t allow much oxygen to reach the brain.
2. Keep a Journal
Daily journaling can help you track the things that are stressing you out. Getting it out of your head and on paper might help you focus on a solution.
Laughing induces physical changes in your body. Laughter is such a great way to feel better fast. It enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
4. Sing a song
Singing is a stress-reliever. It appears to lower the amount of cortisol, the stress hormone in the body. It can also boost your immune system and help fight off illnesses. When you sing, deep breathing is involved which helps improve the flow of oxygen to the brain.
5. Get Outside
Spending some time outdoors can improve your mental health. Whether you are walking, hiking, biking, swimming, camping, or simply just sitting on the back porch enjoying the quiet, your mood and self-esteem can be greatly affected. Enjoying the sunshine and nature all around releases serotonin and endorphins…those “happy” chemicals that we all need to recharge and feel a sense of well-being.
6. Do Something For Someone Else
Sometimes all it takes to relieve stress is to do something nice for someone else. Lifting the spirit of someone else can actually lift our own spirit. It can also put your own issues in perspective as you shift focus to something else. Send a card to a friend, make a meal, help a neighbor with a task, or just offer a kind word.
7. Express Gratitude
Getting in the habit of feeling and expressing gratitude can give you an entire new appreciation for things. Being thankful can enhance your relationships with others, make you smile more, and can greatly impact your emotional health.
8. Unplug and Give Yourself a Break
We all know running away from problems never solves anything. But sometimes taking a much-needed break from those things we do day-to-day is extremely helpful in finding relaxation of the mind and body. Get away from technology for a bit. Social media isn’t all bad, but it can amplify emotions. If you can get away from home, take a vacation, even a short one. Staying home? Take a bath, go shopping, or get a massage.
9. Get Moving
Take periodic breaks throughout the day, especially if you sit at a desk. Your eyes and muscles will thank you. Every hour, get up and stretch. Take a quick 10-minute walk around the office or block during lunch.
10. Connect with Others
Often when stressed we tend to isolate ourselves. Don’t wait for someone to reach out to you. Call a friend. Sometimes that conversation can lift your spirit and give you the energy boost you need to complete a task.
Mora-Ripoll R (2010). Therapeutic value of laughter in medicine. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 16(6): 56–64.
Stanborough, Rebbeca Joy, “10 Ways That Singing Benefits Your Health” healthline. 2020 November 10.