Healthy ways to cope with stress make the difference in how we face each day. Using simple ways to overcome stress and its effects can help us in living out our priorities. Not only will you feel better physically and mentally, you’ll actually feel good about what you’ve done!
There is a healthy level of stress for each person. If you didn’t feel the pressure to work or make dinner for your family, there would certainly be negative impacts. Not all stress is bad. The challenge is when chronic stress sets in and we don’t have the tools to handle it. Knowing the difference between good, encouraging pressure and negative, chronic stress is key. How you deal with each one will make a difference in how you live the rest of your life. It will not only impact you, but those around you, especially your immediate family.
What is Stress?
Stress is generally felt when a surge of adrenaline or cortisol flood the body in response to a situation. That situation may be a burning building, traffic, a food allergy, a family crisis, or daily struggles raising children. Here’s what you need to know about that stress response: every single stress response is the same whether it’s a burning building or if it’s everyday stresses. It can take your body 90 minutes to recover from a stressful situation. What if you face 15 of those in a day? Your body will be under a chronic stress response, even if it’s small, daily stressors.¹
Long-term, chronic stress can lead to health problems physically as well as mentally. From headaches to ulcers, sadness to social anxiety, stress can affect daily life. Using healthy ways to cope with stress daily will help manage the effects before they become a problem.
3 T’s and Stress
In The Wellness Way’s approach to care we talk about how the 3 T’s affect your body: toxins, thoughts, and trauma. Each of these add stress to the body. Not all stress is mental or emotional (thoughts), however that is the one most people associate with stress. Toxins put your organs and systems under stress in how they function. Many times these toxic loads can have emotional symptoms as well. Trauma or physical injury and disease don’t just cause physical discomfort or stress. Trauma can also cause emotional stress in dealing with pain or lack of function. Relieving each of these three, even any one, will have a remarkable impact on your health!
Signs You May Be Under Significant Stress
The signs and symptoms of stress may be cognitive (thinking-related), emotional, physical, or behavioral. Their severity can range from mild to severe.
Cognitive symptoms may include:
- difficulty concentrating or thinking
- memory problems
- negativity or lack of self-confidence
- constant worrying
- difficulty making decisions.
Emotional symptoms may include:
- low morale
- feeling hopeless or helpless
- feeling apprehensive, anxious, or nervous
- feeling depressed
- feeling unhappy or guilty
- feeling agitated or unable to relax
Physical symptoms may include:
- muscle tension or other physical pain or discomfort
- stomach problems
- nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
- loss of sex drive
- rapid heart rate
- high blood pressure
Behavioral symptoms may include:
- changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- social withdrawal
- nervous habits such as nail biting, teeth grinding or foot tapping
- increased use of caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol or other drugs
- neglect of family or work responsibilities
- decline in performance or productivity.²
At The Wellness Way, we often talk about priorities over goals. When you have clear priorities, you have a clearer picture of what is important to focus on each day. When your focus for the day is clear, you are able to walk through it more confidently. When you are able to walk through your day more confidently, stresses that could be a distraction won’t derail you.
Taking time to get your priorities outlined may take some time, but the effects will certainly be worth it. When you live by your priorities, daily challenges won’t have negative impacts on your health. You’ll know what to do each day, even when surprises pop up! You’ll know what you need to put importance on. When you have a clear lens in place, you’ll have a clear vision of how to act and make decisions.
5 Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress
Practice visualization. You may have heard about athletes using visualization to help improve their game. The same concept can help achieve a deeper level of relaxation or reduction in stress response. Think about it as a daydream to your happy place! Do you find the beach relaxing? Maybe a walk in nature? Picture yourself there and feel the stress melt away.
Take calming breaths. Taking focused, deep breaths help to calm your body’s fight-or-flight response. An easy way to do this is to completely exhale, inhale for a count of 7, hold for a count of 7, exhale completely for a count of 7, hold for a count of 7. Repeat 4 more times.
Practice progressive muscle relaxation. Inhale and tighten a specific group of muscles for a count of 7. Exhale and instantly relax the tense muscles. Repeat through each muscle group until you have gone through your whole body.
Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Proper nutrition supports your body physically and mentally. The hormones and neurotransmitters that help cope with stress depend on your body functioning optimally. If the body is not nourished or functioning properly, there will be an interference in the systems, leading to disease…which will lead to more physical and emotional stress on the body!
Use positive thinking and affirmations. Did your mom ever tell you, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?” Similar to visualization, positive thinking and affirmations are a mental practice. Self-talk, or your inner monologue, affects how you think about yourself and act. If you are positive in your self-talk and thinking, you will have a healthier and happier outlook on life. Affirmations are simply self-talk in speaking positive phrases out loud. When you hear yourself speaking these phrases, you’ll believe them! It may take some practice and you may feel silly, but don’t give up! After all, you’ve got this! We believe in you!
The Wellness Way Can Help!
At The Wellness Way, we have several tools to help people overcome the effects of stress in their lives. Of course we do physical adjustments, relieving trauma. But we also talk to our patients about ways to reduce the toxins and adjust their thought life. We understand the body functions similar to a Swiss Watch. All systems need to function properly!
Sometimes we need to take a deeper look. That’s when we use focused testing to get to the root cause of the problem. With our strategy to Do Health Differently, we address the root so our patients can restore their health! We can help in addressing the causes of stress, whether it’s thoughts, toxins, or trauma. Reach out to one of our clinics below to get started on your wellness journey!