Stress is a natural part of life. If we can feel happiness, then we can feel stressed.
However, that doesn’t mean that we should just give in to it and let it rule our life.
There are healthy techniques to cope with stress, and those are what we’ll share with you today.
- What Is Stress?
- The Detrimental Effects of Too Much Stress
- What Are Healthy Ways To Cope With Stress?
- What Are the Top 5 Ways to Reduce Stress Fast?
- How To Create a Less Stressful Environment
- Healthy Techniques To Cope With Stress: The Conclusion
What Is Stress?
Defining what stress is will give you a better insight into how to refine the techniques that we will share with you later on and adapt them to your personality.
An article published by the National Institute of Mental Health defines what stress is so succinctly.
To quote them “stress is how the brain and body respond to any demand.”
This means that any activity requiring a certain amount of effort and discomfort can cause it, from small work struggles to more serious relationship issues.
Common Reactions To Stress
We can react to stress in different ways. Sometimes, they can cause an emotional disturbance in the form of frustration or helplessness and disbelief or shock, depending on the event’s severity.
They can also lead to more physical manifestations like headaches or stomach problems.
Finally, they can also develop unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, or even drug abuse.
It doesn’t matter whether you have high self-discipline or confidence. We all have our own vulnerabilities that stress can exploit.
Prolonged exposure to an incredibly stressful situation can also wear one down in the long run.
Understanding Fight or Flight
Stress can also activate the nervous system’s fight or flight response.
This is the human body’s natural defense mechanism that usually kicks in when exposed to life-threatening events.
It triggers our body to release two survival hormones: adrenaline and cortisol.
It raises our blood pressure, digs into energy reserves, and empowers the body to either fight or flight.
You can see how helpful it can be to an actual crisis, such as during an accident or natural calamity.
However, one can also understand why we must not activate it all the time.
First, it can be very exhausting for the body and can potentially cause health issues.
Second, it can consume the energy reserves that we need to survive an actual life-and-death situation.
The Detrimental Effects of Too Much Stress
Let us focus, though, on the health effects. Most of us are (hopefully) rarely exposed to near-death events after all.
According to a review published in EXCLI Journal Experimental and Clinical Sciences, here are just some of the major health effects of being constantly exposed to stressful conditions:
Brain Health Issues
Constant stress can lead to memory and cognitive disorders.
This is why there are people who reach a state of selective memory loss after a traumatic event.
Weakened Immune System
Countless studies have already looked into the relationship between stress and the immune system.
Apparently, aside from adrenaline and cortisol, stress also triggers the body to release catecholamines.
These are hormones that have immune-suppressing properties.
Leads To Heart Problems
As mentioned above, stress can increase our blood pressure and can potentially cause heart problems over time.
It can also mess up our heart’s natural beat and restrict essential cardiovascular functions.
Can Trigger Gastrointestinal Complications
Several gastrointestinal inflammatory diseases are associated with stress.
Aside from that, it can also influence our appetite and mess up digestive functions.
What Are Healthy Ways To Cope With Stress?
The question now is, what are healthy techniques to cope with stress?
While some people believe that facing the stressors head-on is the best solution.
We understand, though, that it might not be the ideal step for everyone.
After all, confronting the things that stress you out can be a stressful experience, as well.
Hence, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests the following ways instead:
One of the best ways to cope with stress is to practice self-care techniques. Pamper yourself. Get a massage.
Set aside time to do the things that you really enjoy and do it in a safe and quiet space.
Just make sure that your self-care rituals won’t be detrimental to your health.
For instance, it’s okay to indulge in your comfort foods every once in a while.
That said, binge-eating can potentially lead to feelings of discomfort and increase the risk of obesity and heart disease.
Another healthy way to cope with stress is to bond with other people. Go out. Have fun with friends.
Just remember to choose your company well. Stay away from toxic people.
Instead, spend more time with people who understand you and whom you trust.
Take a Break
Don’t get us wrong. Adapting an escapist way to deal with things is not the way to go.
Doing so can potentially lead to guilt, self-doubt, and further psychological strain.
There’s nothing bad in taking a momentary break to breathe, though. Go on a retreat. Enjoy nature.
In fact, simply having offline days can already help in alleviating stress and improving your mental health.
Finally, you must recognize that it is okay to seek help, especially if your stress is already severely affecting your life quality.
There are various therapies and prescriptions that can help one deal with chronic stress and its physical symptoms.
What Are the Top 5 Ways to Reduce Stress Fast?
While the steps we shared above can definitely help relieve stress, we also understand that most of them are easier said than done.
Seeking professional help, for instance, takes a lot of courage and preparation.
Most of us can be limited by our personal lives as well.
Parents can’t simply pack their bags and go on a spiritual retreat in the middle of a school week, right?
Therefore, here are five simple methods that anyone can do to relieve stress fast:
Watch a Comedy
Do not underestimate the power of laughter.
According to a paper published in the Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine, natural laughter can inhibit the release of stress-inducing hormones and release endorphins instead.
Endorphins are natural chemicals that the brain releases to make us feel good and happy. It can even relieve pain.
Listen To Calming Music
Do you know what else releases endorphins? Good music.
We recommend listening to more soothing tunes, but this definitely depends on personal preference.
We have friends who find it more relaxing to listen to pop or metal.
Remember, the feeling induced as you’re listening is more important than your choice of genre.
Breathing slowly by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth as you would when you’re meditating is a good way to calm yourself down, especially during tense situations.
Light a Candle
Did you know that there are scents that can calm you down? This method is referred to as aromatherapy.
A study published in the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine has found it effective in reducing anxiety levels.
They used lavender and chamomile essential oils in their study.
There is still a lot to explore about the science behind the relaxing benefits of chewing gum.
We believe that one possible explanation is that it can help get us into a more relaxed rhythm.
You see, everything has a vibration. This includes our thoughts and emotions.
One of the manifestations of these vibrations is rhythm.
You can physically feel it through the rhythm of your heartbeats and the pace of your breathing.
A calmer person has a slower, more regular rhythm, while those under stress tend to have a more irregular pace.
Chewing gum gets us in that relaxed, regular pace.
One study actually put this to the test involving over a hundred participants and had yielded excellent results.
They have concluded that chewing gum not only relieved stress but also reduced fatigue.
The participants even reported being in a lighter mood after the activity.
How To Create a Less Stressful Environment
Most of the tips we shared with you so far seek to relieve stress internally.
There are also methods to create a less stressful environment to influence stress management positively through external means. Here are some of them:
Let Go of Objects With Painful Memories
One of the things that you should practice when learning how to cope with stress is the art of letting go.
You can start with items with sentimental value. After all, they can serve as external stress triggers whenever you see them.
Those who find it difficult to dispose of these mementos may also opt to stash them away in a box instead.
As the old saying goes: “out of sight, out of mind.”
Letting go of memorable things is different from decluttering.
Certain items, items like a keychain or a piece of jewelry, may not qualify as clutter.
On the other hand, a large pile of paper may not remind you of any stressful event but can still cause undue stress because of the visual distraction and physical space that they create and occupy.
Hence, try to keep your space tidy as much as possible. Adopting a more minimalist lifestyle also helps.
Have Indoor Plants
Plants don’t just improve indoor air quality, but they can also breathe life into any room and your stressful life.
Certain plants also have aromatherapeutic qualities. Not to mention that the color green is known to be a calming color.
Lastly, caring for another living thing can also be a calming and magical experience. The process is a sacred retreat on its own.
Designate No-Gadget Zones
Digital devices can cause a lot of stress. We are simply so used to them that we seldom notice the mental and emotional fatigue that they cause anymore.
Being exposed to social media and the cacophony of online distractions can really bring one down.
That’s why we highly recommend unplugging your gadgets when they’re not in use and designating no-gadget zones. Your bedroom is a good place to start.
Healthy Techniques To Cope With Stress: The Conclusion
The modern age exposes us to significant amounts of stress each day.
Its noise. Pollution. All those screens. Yes, it really is a very stressful world that we live in.
The problem is, they can also increase the risk of developing various health issues, so we can’t really leave stress unattended.
Fortunately, learning how to cope with stress can help us let go of some of the toxicity.
Setting aside the time to pamper yourself and hang out with friends are just a couple of ways to relieve stress.
Some methods are also impressively quick and easy, like watching a funny clip or chewing gum.
Finally, don’t forget to create a less stressful environment through decluttering and designating no-gadget zones.