Too much stress is never a good thing. Under normal circumstances, your body’s stress response is actually pretty impressive, designed to flood your system with the juice it needs to either fight for its life, or run like hell. It’s when this stress response sticks around for longer than is healthy that we encounter problems.
Often referred to as chronic stress, the above-described condition can be responsible for a number of health issues, including stuff like chronic inflammation (which, in turn, is responsible for a number of health issues).
So how do we keep that stress response in check? As our lives get busier and more stressful, it becomes increasingly important to keep solid stress-relief strategies close at hand.
The first step towards managing your stress response is figuring out exactly what sets it off. What triggers you most readily? If you feel chronically stressed, but can’t think of anything off the top of your head, consider a “stress diary.” Record your stress triggers on a day-to-day basis, and then isolate the most frequently-recurring ones after a week or so.
Everybody is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all list of stressors. You’ll have to figure out what stresses you out the most, and then you can get to work putting together a plan to quiet that anxiety for good.
You don’t put down bath mats in your bedroom, right? Most likely because you don’t find yourself in danger of slipping and falling in there. When you’re looking to manage your stress response, the best way to start is to isolate those danger areas — the “wet bathtubs” in your everyday life, as it were.
Figure out which places/people/situations most readily trigger your stress response, and then go about devising the best ways to mitigate that stress.
Again, everyone is different, so the best “stress bath mat” is going to depend on who you are and what you like. Here are a few good suggestions to get you started, though.
Almost universally, exercise is a great way to burn off a bit of extra stress. Whether this means sweating it out to the oldies, pumping iron for an hour, or just going for a quick jog, some vigorous activity is a great way to release that stress valve.
Getting together with people you love is actually a super effective way to lower stress levels, so don’t hesitate to set up a coffee date with your best pal(s) if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
It should come as no surprise that putting better food in your body helps your mind work better, too. If you’re feeling extra stressed, consider cutting processed sugars and unhealthy additives. Along with that, experiment with adding or removing different foods from your diet and monitoring what happens.
Let’s face it: Stress is part of our lives, whether we like it or not. It’s more or less unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to make things miserable or impact our health in so many negative ways. With the right strategies in place, stress can be easily mitigated for a happier, more productive life.