Chronic stress has become an epidemic in this country. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s healthy. If you want to live well and be happy, you must proactively address this issue before it destroys your mental and physical health.
The Skinny on Stress
Stress often gets vilified, but it’s actually a very natural part of what it means to be human.
“Stress is a normal human reaction that happens to everyone,” Cleveland Clinic explains. “In fact, the human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. When you experience changes or challenges (stressors), your body produces physical and mental responses. That’s stress.”
Stress can be positive in certain situations – keeping you alert, motivated, and aware of your surroundings. But it can also have adverse effects – particularly when it morphs into a chronic state.
When someone experiences chronic stress, the stress response leads to excessive wear and tear on the body. This may include physical and emotional symptoms such as aches and pains, exhaustion, headaches, high blood pressure, muscle tension, stomach and digestive issues, weak immune system, etc. Over time, a chronic state of stress can evolve into serious issues like anxiety, depression, or panic attacks.
5 Tips for Defeating Stress
Once you understand what stress is and understand what’s triggering it for you, it becomes a matter of simply finding ways to quell stress and live life in a better mental state. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Watch Your Diet
While stress is usually caused by external factors, your diet has a direct impact on your body’s ability to withstand stress. If you’re smart about your nutrition, you can give your body the ammunition it needs to fight back.
As WebMD explains, “Foods can help tame stress in several ways. Comfort foods, like a bowl of warm oatmeal, boost levels of serotonin, a calming brain chemical. Other foods can cut levels of cortisol and adrenaline, stress hormones that take a toll on the body over time. A healthy diet can help counter the impact of stress by shoring up the immune system and lowering blood pressure.”
Stress-busting foods include herbal teas, dark chocolate, whole grains, avocados, fatty fish, and nuts. For best results, stay away from alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar, and highly processed foods.
2. Get Plenty of Exercise
Regular exercise gets your blood pumping and encourages the release of endorphins and other feel-good hormones into the body. For best results, get at least 30 to 45 minutes of exercise per day. Aerobic exercise like walking, jogging, or swimming is especially powerful.
3. Use VNS
Your brain and your body are intelligently designed to self-soothe in stressful moments through a process known as neuromodulation. When this process occurs, your parasympathetic nervous system kicks into action to actively slow down your heart rate and improve breathing. But sometimes it needs a little help to initiate this process. This is where vagus nerve stimulation, or VNS, comes into play.
VNS is a process through which you stimulate the vagus nerve (which is like a superhighway between your brain and your body’s various organs and systems). This sends messages to the brain to generate relaxing feelings throughout the body. The easiest way to initiate VNS is by using a simple device like Xen by Neuvana.
4. Learn to Say No
If you’re like most people, your personal schedule is closely correlated with your stress level. When your schedule is overloaded, you’re extremely high-strung. When your schedule becomes manageable again, stress recedes, and there’s some degree of normalcy.
One of the best things you can do for your emotional health is learning to say no. Be judicious with your commitments. Create plenty of buffer room in your schedule and don’t be afraid to turn down things that aren’t important to you. If you’re a people-pleaser or extrovert, this can be difficult. However, it gets easier to do with practice.
5. Get Organized
It’s amazing how much correlation exists between your internal environment (your headspace) and your external environment (the world around you). If you feel cluttered and chaotic inside, doing something simple like organizing your external environment can get you back on track.
Stress is a normal part of life. Chronic stress…not so much. But if you’re willing to put in the work and adjust your lifestyle, you’ll discover that relaxation is possible. It’s up to you to make smart decisions that put you in a position to live a more balanced lifestyle.
Keep being AllDayChic!