Every day, you will find yourself in stressful situations – the jitters when you meet someone new or anxiety over a deadline at work. When these stressors build up, they can lead to long-term symptoms and serious health issues.
According to recent research, nearly 8 in 10 American adults feel stressed at least once a week — with 1 in 7 of them reporting feeling stressed every day of the week. Yet, most of us don’t practice consistent stress relief!
Stress can be overwhelming. If you’re feeling stuck, these practical steps can help you climb out of your stress cave.
Take the first step towards a stress-free life. Book a discovery call with our team.
Relieving Stress Is Important for Your Health
Reducing stress not only alleviates internal tension but also protects your health in the long term. Health benefits of less stress include:
- A better night’s sleep
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced muscle tension
- Improved digestion
- A stronger immune system
Lower stress levels also decrease your risk for various health issues, including:
- Autoimmune disease
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Gut imbalances
- Brain fog
- Hormone imbalances
- Chronic inflammation
Signs That You’re Stressed
Stress presents itself in many ways. Here are some signs that stress is harming your health.
Stress can literally hurt your head. Stress has been found to lead to tension headaches and migraines. So if you’re experiencing more headaches than usual, stress could be the cause.
Stress and sleep are strongly connected. When you’re stressed, it makes it difficult to fall and stay asleep, and when we’re not having quality sleep, it can lead to increased levels of stress.
Stress can be tough on your stomach. Why? When you’re stressed, your body produces more stomach acid than usual, which can lead to digestive dilemmas such as heartburn, tummy aches, and diarrhea. And if you already suffer from a digestive issue, such as irritable bowel syndrome, stress can worsen your symptoms.
Stress takes a lot of mental energy. When you’re stressed, your brain puts everyday things on the back burner. So if you’re chronically stressed, you might find it hard to focus or struggle to remember things.
Stress hormones take over your brain and keep you from feeling calm and happy. There’s no surer sign that you’re stressed than a short fuse.
The Dangers of Chronic Stress
The longer you struggle with stress, the more dangerous it becomes. Long-term stress not only leads to serious mental health issues like anxiety and depression, but it also affects your physical health.
There’s a reason they call it stress eating. Many people use food to cope with hard times. But chronic stress can lead to hormonal imbalances causing overeating, weight gain, and even obesity.
Stress makes your heart beat faster. This means when you’re constantly stressed, your heart is working harder all the time, causing your blood pressure to rise. Chronic stress increases your risk of having a heart attack or suffering a stroke.
Weakened Immune System
When you’re chronically stressed, your body’s defenses against diseases are lowered, which increases your chances of getting sick.
Want to learn more about how stress affects your health? Watch our free webinar.
Steps to Relieve Stress
Managing your stress can improve your overall health. Here are some ideas for the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Immediate Stress Relief
- Connect with a Loved One
Connecting with others can help you maintain peace of mind. Physical touch, in particular, helps relieve stress. Asking a loved one for a hug is one of the simplest forms of stress relief available. If physical touch isn’t an option, simply calling a friend to say hello can help you feel more supported and calm your mind.
- Smell a Calming Scent
Aromatherapy can help you to feel energized and more relaxed. Scents such as lavender, lemon, chamomile, and jasmine have been shown to have calming effects on the brain. Try lighting a non-toxic candle, diffusing essential oils, making some tea, or taking a bath with these scents when the stress becomes too much.
- Refocus Your Energy
There are several relaxation techniques you can perform from anywhere, whether you’re at your desk or in your home.
Deep breathing is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing technique is a powerful stress reliever you can try. Guided imagery – where you picture yourself in a peaceful scene such as the beach or a forest – is another option you can try to calm your mind.
- Get Some Sun
Spending a few minutes in the sun enhances your mood and reduces stress. Aim to spend 30 minutes outside each day.
- Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation helps relieve tension. To try progressive muscle relaxation, lie or sit down and tense a group of muscles as you breathe in. Then relax those muscles as you breathe out. Typically, you work on muscle groups in a certain order.
- Treat Yourself
Pampering yourself can work wonders for your mental state. Getting a massage can relax you physically, while acupuncture can send you into a deeply relaxed state. Or you could simply tune out from any distractions and create a spa day for yourself at home with facials and a bubble bath.
Long-Term Stress Relief
- Balance Your Lifestyle
If you want to reduce your stress levels, then you have to take care of yourself. Start by watching what you eat. Your body needs a healthy diet to function properly. It also needs plenty of sleep to recharge so you can tackle the next day with a clear mind.
Exercise is a fantastic stress reliever. Taking a walk, practicing yoga, or doing a Tai Chi flow release endorphins and soothe your mind. Exercises with repetitive movements such as swimming or rowing are also extremely effective in relieving stress.
- Make Time for You
Taking time out of every day to focus on yourself is very important. Your me-time could also be as simple as baking, watching your favorite show, or listening to music.
- Develop a Positive Mindset
How you talk to yourself matters. Positive self-talk will help you develop a healthier outlook and build your resiliency. Expressing gratitude is another way you can boost your mental health and lower your stress levels. Take time each day to think about all the good things you have in life.
- Step Away from Social Media
Repeated media exposure can increase anxiety and stress. Try limiting the amount of time you look at social media or the news each day to one hour or less.
Meditation lowers cortisol levels and improves your emotional responses to stressful situations. The best part is, you can meditate any time anywhere. Simply bring your attention to your breath, breathing in and out, and focusing on positive thoughts or scripture. You can do this for as long or as short as you need.
These stress-relieving techniques are a great way to calm yourself when the pressures of everyday life start to overwhelm you. Taking time to relax will help you relieve the symptoms of stress, both physical and mental.
Neglecting the signs can be detrimental to your health in the long run, so it’s vital to know how to manage your stress. However, if the stress becomes too much, it may be a good idea to see a functional medicine doctor who can advise you on therapy options to alleviate your symptoms. Tri-Cities Functional Medicine can help relieve your stress and find solutions to stress-related disorders.
Feeling more stressed than usual? Our team can help.
Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves patients throughout East Tennessee and into Virginia and North Carolina. These areas include but are not limited to: Washington County, TN, Sullivan County, TN, Carter County, TN, Greene County, TN, Knox County, TN, Bristol, TN, Holston Valley, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Walnut Hill, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Greeneville, TN, Morristown, TN, Blountville, TN, Bluff City, TN, Kingsport, TN, Jonesborough, TN, Colonial Heights, TN, Limestone, TN, Knoxville, TN, Bristol, VA, and Abingdon, VA.