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Everybody feels stressed sometimes. Especially for an entrepreneur, it seems a little stress can be the right push to chase after goals and try new approaches to problems. But when it comes to stress, how much is too much?
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, chronic stress has significant effects on mental and physical health. It can increase your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. It’s often a gateway to anxiety and depression.
While it’s impossible to completely avoid stress in today’s fast-paced world, there are some proven ways to limit its control of your life. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, here are some things you can do to help combat it.
Understanding the Biology of Stress
Successful stress management starts with removing some of the uncertainty around what stress actually is. While it can feel like stress is “all in your mind,” there are physical components to it. When we’re anxious, our bodies secrete hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These lead to a “fight or flight” reaction intended to assist us in overcoming dangerous circumstances.
Adrenaline increases our heart rate and blood pressure. Cortisol, the stress hormone, suppresses the immune system and can lead to high blood sugar levels. This is all helpful when in an actual life-threatening situation, but when these systems are constantly activated, they can take a toll on our health.
If you’ve ever heard someone say “all that stress needs to go somewhere,” that’s not wrong. Physical activity can provide an outlet for the heightened hormonal levels—creating that physical “fight or flight.” Other activities on this help to counteract the hormones to restore the body’s stasis.
Strategies To Combat Stress
There are several things you can do to manage stress. Exercise, meditation, and counseling can all help people deal with stress. Others may require medication to manage their issues. There are some highly effective strategies that you can use to relieve stress.
1. Get regular exercise
Regular exercise is beneficial for everyone, especially those with chronic or high-stress problems. It relieves tension by triggering endorphins, which are mood-boosting hormones. It also helps to improve sleep, which can be disrupted by stress.
You don’t have to hit the gym or run a marathon, either. Simply taking a 30-minute walk after work can have a noticeable impact on your stress levels.
2. Take breaks
If stress is a response to “danger,” sometimes it’s best to remove that danger. If you’re feeling stressed at work, take a few minutes to yourself to relax and rejuvenate. Step away from your desk, take a walk, or take a break to do something you enjoy.
Be careful not to overuse your phone during breaks. Sometimes a wave of notifications further induces stress instead of relieving it.
3. Try relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help to reduce stress. These activities allow your body to relax and reset.
4. Take medication
If you’re struggling to manage your stress, your doctor may prescribe medication. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help to relieve symptoms of stress.
5. Connect with others
Social support can be a great way to reduce stress. Spending time with loved ones can help you to feel more relaxed and less alone. Talking to a counselor can also help you understand and manage your stress.
6. Live with balance
A frenzied lifestyle will naturally trigger more fight-or-flight responses. Make sure that you get enough sleep, leave time for the activities you enjoy, and find moments of rest throughout your day. Keeping to a schedule—such as waking up at the same time every day—can also help your body regulate stress.
The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” is true. Sometimes just seeing something on your desk or lying on your bedroom floor can trigger thoughts about it or make you worry about what needs to get done. Organizing your space and getting rid of the items you don’t need will lower stress levels. This also applies to digital space—keep your desktop clear of apps you don’t use, for example.
Understanding the effects of stress on our bodies and minds is essential. There are several strategies that we can use to reduce the amount of stress in our lives. Exercise, relaxation techniques, counseling, and medication are all highly effective ways to manage stress. Living a healthy lifestyle and connecting with friends and family is also important. Using these strategies, you can combat the adverse effects of stress and lead a healthier, happier life.