Did you know that up to 90% of illness is related to or worsened by stress? NINETY PERCENT -- that’s insane! Some experts even consider stress an epidemic. Doesn’t it make sense to pay attention to our stress and how it is impacting our health?
First, let’s define stress. Stress is simply your body’s reaction to any demand.
Sometimes, stress can work in our favor. For example, you may have noticed you can accomplish more if you wait until the last minute. You may have heard someone say, “I work better under pressure.” That’s because our body responds to stress in a very specific way. When your body detects a stressful situation, hormones, cortisol and adrenaline are released, pupils dilate, blood pressure rises, the liver releases extra sugar into your bloodstream for energy, digestion slows, muscles tense and your brain revs up into high gear. This is great if you’re running from a tiger. It’s not so great if you feel stress EVERY day.
TOO MUCH stress can cause some serious symptoms like irritability, weight gain, anxiety, depression, headaches and insomnia.
The good news is there are many accessible stress-relieving activities. You’ve probably heard of the two most common: meditation and yoga. These are great activities, but they don’t work for everyone. Here are three other options that are accessible to most people:
BREATH: Have you ever noticed you are inadvertently holding your breath? Sometimes we just need to stop for a moment and take a breath. You can do this anywhere, anytime you like. I like to practice a 5-5-5 breath: breathe in for five counts, hold for five counts, then release your breath for five counts. Try this five times.
GO OUTSIDE: Nature has a way of helping us de-stress. Simply go outside and breathe deeply. Take a 15-minute walk. Check out your favorite park. Stop and look around. There is beauty everywhere!
TALK IT OUT: Find a friend, therapist or coach to talk it out. Sometimes we don’t know what is stressing us out until we start talking about it. Once you know what the trigger is, you can take steps to relieve the stress. Or, write it out in a journal if you prefer. Stress is something we can manage if we take the time to pay attention. Don’t let stress ruin your day or your health. Learn to manage stress and enjoy a more calm, healthy life.