How To Keep Your Stress Level Manageable
There are many factors that can cause stress in daily life, from finances and health concerns to work and relationship problems. If you aren't careful, the stress that you face can have a very negative impact on your physical and mental health. However, there are strategies you can employ to lower your stress level on a daily basis.
Below, we’ll discuss some evidence-based strategies to keep your stress level manageable, which can have a defensive effect on your physical and mental health.
Signs and symptoms of stress
Stress can manifest physically in a number of ways, some of which you might notice, but others may go unnoticed and affect your health silently over the years. The following are just a few of the pernicious effects of stress on the mind and body.
When you experience constant stress, you may feel a sense of exhaustion. Your mind may be constantly working on finding a solution for whatever it is you're going through, and that can be tiring both physically and mentally. You may feel like you have no energy to make it through the day.
When you have a lot of stress in your life, it can lead to anxious thoughts. These thoughts may show up at the worst times, such as when you're trying to fall asleep at night.
Alternatively, you might not have any problem falling asleep but instead experience difficulty staying asleep. You might feel exhausted and fall asleep immediately but then find yourself up in the middle of the night with anxious thoughts running through your mind.
It can be easy to become irritable when you’re experiencing constant stress in your life. This may happen because your mind is constantly mulling over situations causing you stress. Your energy and focus may be distracted from the other areas of your life, so if any other issue arises, you may not have the patience to cope with it.
Studies have found that if you're experiencing high levels of stress, you may also have problems with your digestive system, such as diarrhea or constipation. You could experience feelings of nausea or stomach cramps.
Change in appetite
Some people turn to food to manage their stress levels. They may eat unhealthy foods either because they are convenient or simply because they want to. However, there are also people who lose their appetite with stress. It can be difficult for them to bring themselves to eat anything.
Emotional and mental changes
Stress can also come with mental and emotional signs. It can lead to increased levels of anxiety or feelings of depression. You may be more irritable, have trouble sleeping, or experience difficulty with your memory. You may also find that your decision-making skills are affected by stress. Research published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews shows that stress can affect the mechanisms involved in decision-making.
When you know the physical and emotional signs to watch for, you may find that you can monitor your stress levels more effectively. It may be helpful to keep track of how you're feeling each day. By doing this, you might recognize when you are experiencing more stress so that you can take action to curb the negative effects of stress more quickly.
Tips on managing your stress level
Whether you have the assistance of a tracker or you are just paying attention to your stress levels on your own, there are some strategies you can use to manage your stress levels more effectively.
Get exercise regularly
When your body is under stress, the "fight-or-flight" reaction typically kicks in. When that happens, your body releases additional adrenaline and cortisol. This was important in the past when stress was caused by dangerous situations that humans needed to be able to respond to. However, in current times, we aren't usually stressed over something that we need to fight or run away from fast. This can cause people to gain weight because they don't have a way to release all those extra hormones properly.
Exercise can help reduce the extra stress hormones so they aren't just staying in your body. Research shows that exercise also releases endorphins, one of the body’s feel-good hormones. This doesn't have to be strenuous exercise; it could be as simple as going for a walk at a pace that causes your body to release endorphins.
Keep a journal
Research shows that journaling can help you manage stress in a few different ways. The first is that it can help to get your frustrations out of your head and down on paper.
Journaling may also help because you can look back at past entries and identify any patterns that are adding to your stress. You may know that you are feeling stressed but not be able to identify exactly where it's coming from. Journal entries may help you pinpoint the causes of your stress.
Learn time management and organizational skills
Two common culprits of stress sometimes include poor time management and organizational skills. If you experience difficulty in these areas, you may find yourself running behind constantly. You may be late for meetings and appointments or have a hard time finding your keys. You might also find yourself procrastinating on deadlines.
Learning how to manage your time better, set appropriate deadlines, and keep your commitments organized may go a long way in helping reduce your stress.
Don't overcommit yourself
If your schedule is booked and you're constantly running from one place to the next, you may be more likely to experience stress. Sometimes the best thing you can do may be to learn how to say "no" to people and commitments. If you try to give a piece of yourself to everything, you may experience unnecessary levels of stress.
This might mean you have to say "no" to good things and even activities that you might want to do. This may help you set priorities and choose commitments that are the most important to you.
Choose relationships wisely
Some relationships may trigger more stressful emotional responses. To reduce relationship stress, you might form a plan to limit your time with certain people. Also, it may help to think about which people in your life are positive and make you feel happy and better about yourself. You can choose to spend more time with those people and less time with the people who drain you of your energy.
Talk to a therapist
If you are experiencing stress regularly, it may be beneficial to speak with a therapist, whether in your community or online. A therapist might be able to offer insight and identify where your stress is coming from so that you can reduce and manage it more effectively.
Research shows that online therapy can be an effective way to learn how to manage stress, along with other mental health challenges. Studies have revealed that many types of online therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, are as effective as in-person therapy.
With online therapy at BetterHelp, you can connect with a therapist via audio, video, or live chat at a time that works for you. You can also message your therapist through in-app messaging, and they’ll respond as soon as they can. This may prove to be helpful if you experience stress in between sessions and want to document what you’re feeling in the moment.
What are the 3 levels of stress?
Experts recognize three types of stress: acute stress, acute episodic stress, and chronic stress. Acute stress refers to the response to immediate stressors, such as when you realize you forgot to pick your child up from school on time. Acute episodic stress describes the stress response when situations of acute stress happen on a regular basis. Chronic stress refers to stress levels that do not ever subside.
How can I know my stress level?
Recognizing stress is one of the first steps in stress management. You can keep track of your stress by regularly assessing your emotional state and overall well-being. One of the best ways to track stress effects is by keeping a journal. Journaling allows you to reflect on aspects of your life that may be causing you stress, as well as any mental or physical symptoms your stress may be leading to, such as mood concerns, sleep problems, or changes in eating patterns.
What is a normal stress level?
The experience of stress can vary from person to person, and even from family member to family member. There is no universally accepted “normal” level of stress. The best way to assess whether you need to lower stress in your life is to look at how stress is impacting you. If your stress affects your relationships and ability to function in your day-to-day life, you may want to consider speaking to a therapist to learn more about methods of managing stress, including self-care techniques.
What are 5 physical effects of stress?
- High blood pressure.
- Increased risk of heart disease.
- Elevated heart rate.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Trembling and shakiness.
What does stress feel like?
Different people can experience stress in different ways. For some people, stress may feel like a lack of control. For others, stress may result in increased irritability and “snapping.” It’s important to keep track of what stress looks like for you so that you can identify situations in which your stress levels may be rising.
How do you define stress?
As the Cleveland Clinic explains, stress is a bodily response to changes in one’s environment. Notably, these changes can be positive or negative - many people may associate stress with negative aspects of life, but stress can also be caused by beneficial life situations, such as being promoted at work or starting a new romantic relationship.
What is the first stage of stress?
The first stage of stress is known as the “alarm” response, also referred to as the “fight or flight” response. It is the immediate, often physical reaction to experiencing a stressor.
What is emotional stress?
Emotional stress is stress that is triggered by the experience of strong emotions, such as fear, anger, or sadness.
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