Stress is part of everyone’s life. Almost every living thing has some form of stress response hardwired deep in its brain. In the wild, this response is a key to survival, preparing the body for a fight or flight response to danger. When you encounter stress, your heart rate increases along with your blood pressure. You breathe faster, and your body releases extra energy from your stored fat reserves. This is great when you are running from a wild animal but not so helpful when you are anxious about a stack of unpaid bills. Uncontrolled stress can increase your risk of health problems like heart disease, stroke, obesity, and diabetes. Because it increases the amount of inflammation in the body, dealing with stress is also related to chronic pain management. By incorporating stress management strategies into your life, you will improve your overall health and well-being.
Learning to Breathe
When you encounter a stressful event, your body responds quickly. It often happens even before you fully comprehend the nature of the threat. If you are activating the stress response throughout the day, you probably feel anxious and short-tempered most of the time. You may have trouble sleeping. You may also have issues around eating. Some people lose their appetite while they are under stress. More often, people gain weight as they overeat as a means of coping.
Many of the coping mechanisms that people use to deal with daily stress are unhealthy. It is not unusual for stress to be one of the factors that starts an episode of substance abuse or addiction. A common, healthy strategy for dealing with stress is intentional deep breathing. While you cannot control your heart rate while you are stressed, you can control your breath rate. When you realize that the response is revving up, start with three deep breaths. As you slow your breathing, you will begin to turn off the stress response, returning your body to its normal state. As you calm down, you will find that you are better able to deal with whatever is causing you to be upset or anxious.
Putting Things in Perspective
When you are under stress, the cause of that stress often looms large in your mind. If you have a deadline at work or school, all you can think about is what will happen when you fail to meet it. Ironically, this kind of anxiety can paralyze you, preventing you from doing the work that would help you meet the deadline. Some of the important tools for managing stress involve learning how to put things in perspective.
The stress response is very basic, and your body is treating every threat as though it is a danger to life and limb. An hour in a traffic jam may be frustrating, but it is not a deadly threat. Many people use meditation techniques to help adjust and reframe the way that they think. They might also reach out to a counselor in an individual therapy program. Often, by talking through some of the issues that give you stress, you can minimize their impact and deal with them in healthy ways.
Finding More Stress Management Strategies
Because it is a societal problem, mental health professionals have been working hard to help their patients deal with daily levels of stress and anxiety. This is a critical area of study because stress is connected to so many other serious health issues. At the Encore Health Group, you can find many resources for dealing with stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Stress will always be part of your life, but it does not have to control you. Contact the Encore Health Group at to get support on your path to a healthier, calmer life.