It's no secret that stress is an unpleasant part of life that can leave a person feeling down. Sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, and racing thoughts are only a few of the symptoms stress can bring. At its worst, long-term stress can have far-reaching implications on our health. In fact, some statistics released by the American Psychological Association (APA) report that 75 percent of adults felt moderate to high levels of stress in the past month, and that half of those sufferers reported their stress levels increased over the past year. It appears that Americans have been feeling more and more stress over the years, with 44 percent reporting feeling more stress than they did five years ago.
Psychologists say that the number one health threat among high school students today is stress and that if students fail to learn effective methods for managing it, the results include serious long-term health issues like anxiety, depression, Parkinson's Disease, immune system upset, and even death (from heart complications). At our current state, stress costs our nation a reported $300 billion each year due to medical bills and lost productivity. This is $100 billion more than the cost of obesity each year. Other stress-related effects on health include insomnia--44 percent of people lose sleep each night from stress, and an increased risk of heart attack (increases risk by 25 percent), heart disease (a 40 percent increased risk) and stroke (a 50 percent increased risk).
It appears that the American lifestyle is to blame for such increased rates of stress on a national scale. When taking a look at the economy over the years, it's easy to see that production has increased over time, while the rate of pay has not. In fact, it appears that the general population is working much harder to make much less. This is a trend that seems to be affecting other countries as well, such as China and Canada.
So just how do we combat stress and avoid the health implications it brings?
While some stress is natural, and a part of our built-in defense mechanism intended to aid our survival, long-term stress is very damaging. So in an effort to help you live your best, healthiest version of life possible, we've put together some tips for managing stress, and not letting it control your livelihood.
Know the Signs and Symptoms
The rush of hormones released into the body from stress can affect each person differently. It's best to pay attention to your own body and the changes you notice going on when you're stressed. Some of us experience heart palpitations, high blood pressure, digestive upset, mental shutdown, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, menstrual cycle upsets, mood disturbances, anxiety, fatigue, etc. Knowing how to listen to your body and tell the signs of stress is the first step toward managing it.
Get Routine Checkups
Since long-term stress can be fatal for those with a pre existing heart condition, it's best to keep up with your health and know where you stand. Many who have died from long-term stress implications were unaware that they had any heart issues in the first place. Getting routine checkups from your doctor is a great way to monitor the current state of your health, as it will give you an upper hand in monitoring any changes to your body that may be stress related.
Engage in Regular Exercise
One of the best ways to reduce and manage stress is by getting an adequate amount of exercise on a regular basis. Taking one 30 minute walk each day is all it takes to help your body fight the symptoms that stress can bring.
Indulge in Hobbies
Indulging in a passion that brings you joy, and allows you to separate from anything mentally that's causing you stress is a powerful tool for stress management. Even something as simple as an adult coloring book can have far-reaching positive effects on your body against the damaging effects of stress.
This 2,600-year-old Buddhist practice is an excellent way to strengthen the mind-body-spirit and fight against any symptoms of stress. This practice is widely accepted today as a proven intervention by a variety of mental health professionals. Mindfulness can be practiced by:
- Engaging in meditation
- Observing the 'here and now'
- Participating in guided visualization
- Practicing yoga
Engage in Deep Breathing Exercises
Deep diaphragmatic breathing exercises are highly effective for conquering the symptoms of stress and anxiety in the body and mind. This is practiced by contracting the diaphragm, allowing air to enter through the lungs and chest, then expanding in the belly. These breaths should be long and controlled. I typically instruct my clients to breathe in for five seconds, hold for 5, then exhale for 5 more. We repeat this a few times and the results are very grounding.
The average American only has approximately 10 days of vacation each year after adding up national holidays, etc. This is vastly different from countries like France, where the average employee receives approx. 7 weeks off each year. Making vacation time a priority helps ensure your health will be better, longer, as you'll have a nice break from any work-related stress, more time to nurture your passions, and opportunities to just breathe and relax.
Connect With Others
It's important to have a social support system, and to be able to reach out to this network during times when stress feels unmanageable. Having a person to talk to is one of the most healing benefits a social support system can bring. There just might be someone else who has been through what you're going through who can offer practical advice for coping, or at the very least... listen.
A lack of organization oftentimes contributes to higher levels of stress. Being able to set goals and prioritize them each day is key. This will ensure everything that needs to get done gets done, and that the things that can wait, can wait. Prioritization and list making can be freeing for a person under extreme stress who feels like everything must get done at once.
Get Proactive About Nutrition
Since our health and immune systems are the first to suffer when we experience long-term stress, it's important to be proactive, and ensure we're getting the right balance of nutrition in our daily diets. Many of us self-soothe by eating unhealthy foods and consuming higher amounts of alcohol and/or drugs when under stress. Maintaining a healthy diet with balanced nutrition that includes all of the key essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids our bodies need to perform at an optimal level is key. One way to help fight stress via nutrition is by taking daily supplements containing all of the micronutrients our bodies need to fight stress.
While stress is a natural part of our lives and a key to our survival, too much stress for prolonged periods of time can be fatal. If you'd like to better manage your stress, we're here to help. Feel free to try a bottle and see how you feel. If it doesn't help alleviate stress, or make you feel better, you'll get a full refund.