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Healthy ways to cope with stress make a difference in how we face each day. Using simple ways to overcome stress and its effects can help us live out our priorities. Not only will you feel better physically and mentally, but you’ll also feel good about what you’ve done! There’s a healthy level of stress for each person. If you didn’t feel the pressure to work or make dinner for your family, it would certainly disrupt family life. So, 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 impact you, those around you, and especially your immediate family.

What is Stress?

Stress is generally felt when a surge of adrenaline or cortisol floods 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 stress. 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. 

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 can 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 adds 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, altering 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 just 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 Signs & Symptoms

  • difficulty concentrating or thinking
  • memory problems
  • negativity or lack of self-confidence
  • constant worrying
  • difficulty making decisions.

Emotional Signs & Symptoms

  • moodiness
  • low morale
  • irritability
  • feeling hopeless or helpless
  • feeling apprehensive, anxious, or nervous
  • feeling depressed
  • feeling unhappy or guilty
  • feeling agitated or unable to relax

Physical Signs & Symptoms

  • headaches
  • muscle tension or other physical pain or discomfort
  • stomach problems
  • nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
  • loss of sex drive
  • rapid heart rate
  • high blood pressure
  • fatigue

Behavioral Signs & Symptoms

  • 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. [1]

Living According to Your Priorities

At The Wellness Way, we often talk about priorities over goals. When you have clear priorities, you have a clearer picture of what’s important to focus on each day. When your focus for the day is clear, you can walk through it more confidently. When you can walk through your day more confidently, stressors that could be a distraction won’t derail you. 

It may take some time to sketch out your priorities, but the effects will undoubtedly be worth it. When you live by your priorities, daily challenges won’t negatively impact your health. You’ll know what to do each day, even when surprises pop up! You’ll know what you need to place 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

1 – 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 that takes you to your happy place! Do you find the beach relaxing? A walk in the woods? Picture yourself there and feel the stress melt away.

2 – Take Calming Breaths

Taking focused, deep breaths helps 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, and hold for a count of 7. Repeat four more times. (Don’t do this while driving)

3 – 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. 

4 – 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 correctly, there will be an interference in the systems, leading to disease… which will lead to more physical and emotional stress on the body!

5 – Use Positive Thinking and Affirmations

Did your mom ever tell you, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?” Like visualization, positive thinking and affirmations are mental practices. Self-talk, or your inner monologue, affects how you think 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 saying 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 physical traumas. But we also talk to our patients about ways to reduce their toxins and adjust their thought patterns. The body functions like a Swiss Watch. All systems need to work correctly! Sometimes, we need to take a deeper look. That’s when we use focused testing to get to the root cause of the problem. Our strategy to Do Health Differently addresses the root contributing factors so our patients can restore their health! We can help to address the causes of stress, whether thoughts, toxins, or trauma. Reach out to one of our clinics below to get started on your wellness journey!

Read More About Overcoming Stress

Originally posted July 6, 2021. Updated December 12. 2023.

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Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Wellness Way clinic or personal physician, especially if currently taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Pregnant women, in particular, should seek the advice of a physician before trying any herb or supplement listed on this website. Always speak with your individual clinic before adding any medication, herb, or nutritional supplement to your health protocol. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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