Imagine. You’ve tirelessly prepared for this moment. Though, when the time comes, you’re overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, and you fail to perform. Maybe this occurred during an exam or a presentation. Wherever it occurred, it was still devastating nevertheless. We’ve all been there, and the fact of the matter is this: stress can be crippling. For this reason, managing stress is crucial.
Managing stress is much easier than you might think. There are several small steps you can take to reduce stress and anxiety. Furthermore, by managing stress, you can mitigate the atrocious effects that it can have on the body over a long period of time.
Let’s take a look at how stress affects us and what we can do to manage it.
The Effects of Stress on the Body
We have all experienced the debilitating effects of stress and anxiety at some point. The effects of stress are not just in the moment, though. There are many negative consequences that long-term stress can have on the body.
Unfortunately, your body and extended periods of stress do not pair well together. Over time, stress can have several detrimental effects on the human body. These include but are not limited to the following.
- Mental illnesses such as depression and personality disorders.
- Eating disorders which result in weight gain and obesity.
- Cardiovascular disease as a result of additional stress put on the cardiovascular system.
- Lower sex drive in both men and women.
- Hair loss as well as graying of hair.
- Skin conditions such as acne or eczema.
Stress is never fun. If stress is not managed appropriately, it can have many harmful effects on your body. Furthermore, stress perpetuates stress since its symptoms are huge stressors also. It is a vicious and never-ending cycle unless it is handled appropriately.
Stress oftentimes can be crippling. It can quickly turn a productive day into one filled with anxiety where nothing gets done. However, there is a variety of healthy ways to manage stress and anxiety. These ways have been shown to decrease stress and increase productivity.
It’s no secret that exercise can have a major positive impact on your mood. When you exercise, your body increases the production of endorphins – a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good. This means that exercise can actually make you feel better. For this reason alone, why wouldn’t you exercise?
Exercise and physical activity do far more for managing stress than just releasing endorphins. When people exercise regularly, their self-confidence tends to increase. With self-confidence, you are less likely to succumb to self-doubts which lead to stress and anxiety. The best way to do this is by finding an active hobby that you enjoy. That way you can be active and manage your stress while doing something you enjoy!
Have a Support System
Humans are social beings. We thrive when we’re with others. This is partially why historically humans have come together and formed communities. However, in today’s world, there are so many of us who are determined to go it alone. That mindset is simply against human nature.
As much as we’d like to be, we can’t always be strong. It’s just not possible. When we fall, we need people there to help us get back up. Likewise, when we’re feeling anxious and stressed, we need a support system to help us channel our stress and frustration. You’d be surprised what talking to someone can do for you.
Mindfulness is becoming increasingly more popular by the day. The basic purpose of mindfulness is to bring your focus to your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the current moment. This allows you to better understand situations and how they affect you. This empowers you to recognize and reduce stressors as a result.
Mindfulness is a popular practice today. For this reason, there are plenty of mindfulness practices you can try. The most popular –and most versatile – of which is the S.T.O.P. Technique which focuses on your body and how your emotions are physically affecting you. This can help give you the clarity of mind to make rational decisions without the detrimental effects of stress and anxiety.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is a very important time for the body. This rest and recovery time is vital to our overall functioning, and it also has a major impact on stress. Getting enough sleep gives you a rested mind that is less likely to give in to stressful and anxious thoughts.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends around 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. This allows you to fully rest and recharge without sleeping so much that you’re groggy and lethargic the next day. By sleeping in the “sweet spot” of 7 to 9 hours, you allow yourself to maximize your productivity and minimize your negativity.
Manage Your Time
One of the biggest stressors today is time. Whether it be a deadline, a waiting period, or simply the time left until the end of the workday, time is a significant cause of stress and anxiety. However, there is a fairly simple solution: manage the time you have.
Time management can be a big help in effectively managing stress. By planning your time beforehand, you give yourself the power to decide how to use it. You can give yourself ample time to complete projects or you can plan something to occupy your mind while you wait. Managing your time gives you control over your schedule and substantially reduces anxiety.
In the same way that having a support system allows you to channel your stress, journaling gives you another outlet to do so. Journaling is perfect for everyone. It gives you the opportunity to channel your private thoughts onto a page that no one else ever has to see.
There are plenty of ways to go about journaling. You can keep your writings in a private notebook, you can write it on your phone, or you can write letters that you’ll never send. The possibilities are endless. The only requirement is that it is a safe outlet for your emotions that works well for you. So grab a piece of paper, a notebook, or your phone, and start journaling today.
Worry About What You Can Control
There is plenty in our lives that we have control over, but we always seem to worry about what we can’t control. Does this sound like you? Yeah, me too. We always worry about it, but there’s nothing we can do. If there’s nothing we can do, there is no point in worrying about it.
This is far easier said than done. When we combine this tactic with mindfulness, though, we can have the clarity of mind to understand we have no control. When we understand we have no control over a situation, we can realize that our stress and anxiety are irrational.
Stress and anxiety can be crippling. There is hope. By using these methods for managing stress, you can break its hold on you. You can minimize the stress you feel and avoid paralyzing stress altogether. However, not all stress is bad for you. A little bit of healthy anxiety can keep you on your toes.
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