Stress is part of daily life, and it’s normal to have to manage your stress levels. It’s simply part of the human condition to be subject to the ebb and flow of the tides of stress as we respond to the ever-changing world around us–not to mention our self-awareness of internal reactions to our dynamic inner worlds and perspectives. Our biology requires us to experience the effects of stress. Sometimes, especially in small amounts, our responses to stress can be helpful–for example, an ancient human was able to run from a predator because of her fear response, thus allowing our species to survive and continue existing in an often dangerous and unpredictable natural world. But in large amounts or over a long period of time, stress can cause the body to remain in a perpetually guarded state. Because of this, you may find that stress can begin to take over your life if you don’t manage it properly. The effects of chronic stress are felt across all systems of your body, including your cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, reproductive, and nervous systems. While human beings are well prepared, physically, mentally, and emotionally, to handle stress in small doses, we cannot endure long-term or chronic stress without suffering.
This is why it is pivotal for our wellness to seek out ways to reduce stress in our daily life and to manage the stressors we cannot escape. If we are able to practice ways to bring our bodies in a “rest & digest” state rather than a “flight or fight” state, we can enjoy the benefits of relaxation rather than suffering the detriments of chronic stress.
Things you can do to reduce stress in your daily life
Practice breath work
Intentionally slowing your breath helps you tell your body that it is safe, even when you are worried about something beyond your control. Controlled breathing is an ancient method of reducing stress that people have practiced for thousands of years. Breathing exercises, performed regularly, have been proven to improve your immune system, lower your heart rate if elevated, and of course, boost your lung functioning. It is especially important to take good care of your lungs and your heart nowadays, due to the rapid decrease of air quality and increase of respiratory viruses that humanity is experiencing worldwide.
Get regular massages
If you can afford it, it can be life changing to receive a massage from a professional when you are trying to combat the effects of chronic stress. It is well worth the investment, because no amount of money can equal the value of a healthy nervous system. Massage helps restore balance in our bodies, minds, and emotions, and has been proven to help people return to a “rest & digest” state which allows stress to be managed more easily.
Focus on your nutrition
When you are stressed out, it’s common to crave comfort foods–and very easy to give into these cravings. However, your body needs a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables and other whole (not processed) foods, in order to get all of the vitamins and minerals that you need to feel your best.
These are only a few things that you can do to keep stress from taking control of your life and your health. In addition to the above suggestions, you can try getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, practicing yoga or tai chi, meditating, and working with a licensed, professional counselor. Although managing stress can be challenging, you aren’t alone. Our team of caring, experienced mental health professionals at Chenal Family Therapy can help you manage your stress and gain life-changing tools to help you deal with stress in the long run. Reach out to us today to learn more.