Taking control of your life: How to reduce stress

Mariella Arceo

Mar 05, 2023

We all know how stress can feel. That anxious feeling that builds up in your chest, the tightness in your shoulders, the racing heart. It's uncomfortable, and it can even be tough to concentrate or get a good night's sleep when you're stressed out. We know that stress can take a took on our mental health.
But did you know that stress is more than just an unpleasant feeling? Stress can actually have some serious consequences for your health. Over time, high levels of stress can lead to depression and anxiety disorders, as well as physical problems like high blood pressure and heart disease. This means that managing stress is tantamount to keeping ourselves healthy.

Why do we feel stress?
Stress is a natural response of the body designed to help us deal with challenging situations. When we feel threatened, our autonomic nervous system triggers the 'fight or flight' response and stress hormones such as adrenaline are released. This helps us react quickly in times of danger, giving us an enhanced focus and increased strength. While this reaction can be helpful in the short-term, long-term stress can take its toll on our health.

With this in mind, it's important to know how to recognize the body's stress response and how to manage stress.

How does the body let us know when we have increased stress levels?
Stress has both mental and physical effects on our bodies. Over time, high levels of stress can lead to health problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, insomnia and hypertension (high blood pressure). Other symptoms include headaches, digestive issues, muscle tension, chest pain and feeling overwhelmed. If stress is left unchecked, it can also lead to serious chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.
Pay attention to you body's way of telling you to relieve stress. Once you recognize the signs, some techniques can be done to promote relaxation and to combat stress.

How can we handle stress in healthy ways?
Reducing stress can be challenging but there are a few strategies that may help. To start, try basic techniques like different breathing exercises which can be done anywhere at anytime. Try deep breathing by inhaling through the nose for three to five counts and exhaling slowly through the mouth. This can be a great stress reliever that can be good for your well being in times of stressful situations. 
Practicing daily activities that improve mood such as listening to soothing music, journaling and physical activities such as regular exercise and spending time with loved ones can also help lower stress. Your body will thank you for it too.
Having a healthy diet can be of help to manage stress and anxiety as well. Your diet can be contributing to high blood pressure that may already be exacerbated by your stress and anxiety. Avoid unhealthy habits such as drinking alcohol and too much caffeine and incorporate healthier food options into your daily food intake.
Don't be afraid to seek social support. The people you love and trust can help you deal with stress and improve your well being and self esteem; talk to friends and family about your thoughts and feelings. Just a few minutes of conversation can take a load off of your mental stress and fight off negative thoughts.

Adopt time management skills as well. Take breaks and give yourself time to do other things that interest you. Your own interests can help reduce stress and deserve the same amount of time and attention you give to your other activities. 

Take actions against stress! 
Stress is a normal part of life, but the effects it can have on our health should be taken seriously. Over time, it can lead to physical and mental issues such as headaches, lack of sleep, increased levels of anxiety, changes in mood, and a weakened immune system. 

To help combat this issue and improve your overall wellbeing, it is important to take active steps against stressors in your life. Taking a break from a stressful situation to practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing or using aromatherapy oils can instantly reduce symptoms of stress.
Additionally, engaging in enjoyable activities such as listening to music or reading outside can help alleviate stress long-term by providing an outlet for releasing built up tension. Remember that taking care of yourself should always be the number one priority!

If you or anyone you know is struggling with stress and stress management, do not hesitate to reach out at mosaicmindscounseling.com. Mosaic Minds Counseling cares.