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Keep calm and live longer: The effects of stress and how to manage it.

November 9, 2016

 

 

Stress is defined as the body's response to stimuli that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological function. Often times we mistake the symptoms like headaches, insomnia and lethargy as signs of just being sick. Truth is, more than likely your just dealing with too much stress.

 

Many people simply aren't aware of the fact that stress can affect you physically as well as mentally. Recognizing the symptoms of stress can make it easier to deal with before it gets too bad. Stress that isn't properly dealt with can lead to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. The most commons symptoms and effects of stress include:

  • Headache

  • Muscle tension or pain 

  • Chest pain 

  • Fatigue

  • Change in sex drive 

  • Upset Stomach

  • Sleep problems 

  • Anxiety

  • Restlessness

  • Decreases in focus 

  • Feeling overwhelmed 

  • Irritability 

  • Depression

  • Change in appetite 

  • Drug or alcohol abuse 

  • Tobacco use 

  • Social withdrawal 

  • Decline in physical condition

 

A lot of people attempt to manage stress by doing mundane activities like watching TV, surfing the Internet or playing video games. At the times these can be relaxing, but they can sometimes end up increasing your stress over the long term. Think about how often you've rage quit a game or screamed at the TV because your team was losing. Constructive pastimes, proper sleep and a balanced diet are the true foundations of reduced stress. Many doctors also recommend that you avoid tobacco use as well as excessive caffeine and alcohol intake.

 

When it comes to managing stress, there are a number of different relaxation techniques available. These techniques generally involve focusing on something that is soothing to the mind while also maintaining a high level of aware for one's body. Here are a few relaxation techniques popular in the medical community:

 

  • Autogenic relaxation. Autogenic means . It use visual imagery as well as physical awareness to mitigate stress levels. An example of this would be to imagine a serene setting and then focus on your breathing. You want your breaths to be controlled yet also relaxed. This will in turn slow your heart rate down and reduce muscle tension.

  • Progressive muscle relaxation. This technique calls for the practitioner to sequentially tense and  relax there muscles section by section.
    I would recommend working from the bottoms up starting with your toes up to your neck and facial muscles. Tense each muscle group for 3-5 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat with each section of your body.

  • Visualization. As the name suggests, you will be using mental images to separate yourself from reality and entering a peaceful, calming place. All though this is called "visualization", try to incorporate all of your senses. Smell, sight, sound and touch can all be stimulated through memory. If your happy place is the beach, try to imagine the smell of salt water, the sound of the waves lapping the shore and the heat of the sun shining down on you.

Some other activities to help reduce stress may include:

  • Regular Massage Therapy

  • Meditation

  • Tai chi

  • Yoga

  • Music and art therapy

 

At the end of it all these techniques are designed to accomplish two things, mitigate stress and acclimate you to the symptoms of stress. The more you practice relaxation techniques, the easier it is to identify when you begin to feel stress. This in turn makes it easier to in act the techniques before you succumb to the burden of stressed out. Find what brings you peace and use it to help keep stress in check. Know of any other relaxation tips and techniques? Feel free to share in the comments below and don't forget to subscribe for more healthy living tips.

 

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