Stress not only causes a disease, but stress also is a disease. It’s when you feel emotional tension, physical tension, or both combined. While it’s normal to feel stress (and in some cases, it’s even healthy), too much stress on the body and mind has many negative side-effects associated with it.
Everybody deals with various types and amounts of stress in their daily lives. It might be stress that is associated with trying to find a balance between family, work, and school commitments. It might be stress that is associated with various issues that many of us experience daily such as health, money, and relationships.
Have you ever noticed how too much stress makes you feel? It can lead to physical symptoms like headaches, chest pain, and muscle tension. It can also impact your mood and cause anxiety, sadness, or depression.
What you might not know about stress, is that too much stress can lead to an increased risk of diseases such as obesity, heart disease, mental illness, increased blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and asthma just to name a few.
Doesn’t sound like too much fun, does it? It sounds like a lot of scientific and medical information that many of us simply aren’t qualified to talk about.
So then what is my purpose for writing this?
I am a person who deals with stress. It’s not like I have the most stressful life by any means. Instead, I just have a tendency to overthink everything about my life. The more I overthink every little detail about my life, the more stress I feel.
As I was helping to train in a new hire at work yesterday, I got to talking about my first month on the job. It was only two months ago, so I recall it well.
For the first month of my new job, I didn’t sleep more than seven hours per night. That might seem normal for some, but I am a person who needs eight hours of sleep in order to fully function.
Not only did I not sleep though, but my body was always tense and I couldn’t take a deep breath in if my life depended on it. Every time I tried to, it felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders and preventing me from doing so. My job isn’t the most stressful job by any means, but I was new and put so much pressure on myself that a lot of this stress was self-inflicted.
This is just one of the times that I have found stress to consume my life. During my freshman year of college, I put so much stress on myself during my first week of finals that I went to the hospital and ended up collapsing. The doctors didn’t know what was going on with me and as my heart rate was 30 bpm with a 40/70 blood pressure, the doctors ended up calling my parents 200 miles away to come to see me because they didn’t know what was happening or if I was going to survive.
Two years later, it happened again. I put so much stress on my body that my nervous system completely crashed, and once again, I collapsed. This was in the middle of my school’s cafeteria. I blacked out and fell off of a high-top stool and landed on my head. As I came to, I was being attended to by other students and emergency medical personnel.
In both cases, it was stress and anxiety that caused my nervous system to completely shut down, thus causing my body to go into fight-or-flight mode until it simply collapsed.
Over the years, it’s gotten better. As soon as I start to feel my body shut down, I have found some ways to calm my body down to prevent myself from shutting down and collapsing. And since we all deal with stress on a daily basis, I want to share some tips that I have found to be beneficial to manage and reduce stress. No, these tips won’t completely eliminate stress. They aren’t tips meant to eliminate stress. They are tips to manage and reduce stress.
With that said, here are my 5 tips to manage and reduce stress.
1. Try to breathe and let go.
I know it can be difficult to breathe when you are in the heat of the moment, but closing your eyes, focusing on your breathing, and trying to stay as relaxed as possible is really going to be beneficial for you. There are just some things that you don’t have the ability to control. Let go of these burdens and focus on the things that you can.
I used to hate when I would get stressed out and people would tell me to breathe. But the truth is, they were telling me this for a reason – because breathing and focusing on your breath will help to manage and reduce stress.
When I get stressed at work, I simply take a break. I will shut off my computer screens, get up from my desk, and take a brief walk throughout the building. And when I’m stressed at home, the same thing applies. I will shut off all of my devices, close my eyes, and just focus on my breathing for a few minutes. Seriously, you would be surprised at how a few simple minutes can make a huge difference.
2. Get some rest and sleep.
Everyone knows that stress can cause you to lose sleep, and everyone knows not getting enough sleep can cause stress. It’s a vicious cycle causes the brain and body to get out of whack and only gets worse with time.
My best recommendation, aim to try and go to bed at the same time every night. Get your body and mind used to the same bedtime so that once that time comes, you will have an easier time falling asleep instead of tossing and turning. Strive to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Turn the TV off earlier, dim the lights, and read a book before going to bed. Reading before bed is a great way to wind down the thoughts that may be racing through your head.
Not only do I have the same morning routine, but I also have the same nightly routine as well. I start to wind down at 8:30, take a long hot shower, have a bowl of ice cream, and will either read or watch an episode of a Netflix show. I know that watching TV isn’t the best thing to do, but because I have had the same routine for so long, my mind usually falls asleep fairly easily once it’s over.
The point is, when you don’t get enough sleep, your emotions get all out of whack, you will encounter mood swings, you will feel tense and tired at the same time, and your body will be at an increased risk of developing diseases.
3. Learn to manage your time wisely.
Taking the time to learn and plan my day effectively was one of the best things that I have ever done for myself. It has played a huge role in helping me to manage and reduce stress. Honestly, it’s something that I wish I would have started doing a lot sooner in my life.
Every morning, I dedicate five minutes to plan and map out my day. That’s it… five minutes. I sit down, open up my planner, write down everything that I have to do for the day, and then prioritize it based on what’s most important and what’s least important.
From there, it’s all about taking action on the larger and important tasks. If you can get the large and important tasks done first thing in the morning, you will be setting yourself up for a successful and less stressful day. You have the most energy and brainpower in the morning, so use it wisely, plan your day, and then get to work.
4. Go workout and release some tension.
Working out doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym and lifting weights. While that is a good way to release unwanted tension, it’s also beneficial to throw on a pair of shoes and simply go for a walk. Very few things will help to quiet your mind like a long and quiet walk. Simultaneously, very few things will help you to release some tension like going to the gym and getting in a good workout. Both are beneficial.
While I am an advocate for exercising, I will also say that you don’t need to go to the gym and get in an intense workout. If nothing else, going to the gym or going for a walk is just a great way for you to get out of the stressful environment, to walk away from whatever is stressing you out, and to let your mind rest and recharge for a moment.
5. Talk to somebody close to you.
I will admit, I am incredibly lucky to have a close relationship with everybody in my family. I know that when I am feeling stressed, I can go talk to anybody in my family as well as any of my friends about what I am feeling. In every occurrence, somebody is always there for me just to listen and to perhaps help me to deal overcome the thoughts that I am thinking.
Here’s the deal, whatever you are thinking and whatever thoughts are causing you stress, they are doing you absolutely zero good trapped inside of your head. Let them out, let them free, and let others help you. Whether it’s a family member, a friend, or some random stranger that you meet on the bus, let your thoughts out of your head. Even doing something as simple as talking to somebody about the things that are stressing you out can help to manage and reduce that stress.
Again, I’m no expert when it comes to diagnosing stress or giving you medical advice on how to manage your stress. I am just somebody who has a tendency to overthink and somebody who deals with a lot of stress because of my tendency to overthink. These are 5 tips to manage and reduce stress that I have used in my life, and I truly believe that they have the potential to do the same for you as well.