Stress is the body’s natural response to a wide variety of pressures and demands. These can include normal, everyday stressors like workplace drama, relationship or money issues as well as major life events, like a death in the family, the loss of a job, or the diagnosis of a major illness. Sometimes, stress can be healthy and positive it helps us rise to an important challenge; other times, too much stress can wear us down, and cause physical and mental health problems, like poor sleep, depression, anxiety, chronic illness, or weight loss/gain.
How much stress can a person handle?
Humans’ ability to handle stress varies. Some of us are better equipped to deal with it than others, and some of us have a higher tolerance level for stress, in fact, some people seem to thrive on it. What matters is that you can recognize when your stress level is becoming unmanageable and do something about it. Whatever your personal warning signs may be (like shouting at drivers on the road, developing a lasting kink in your neck, or showing frustration when working from home) be sure to pay attention and take action.
What’s the best way to deal with stress?
There are hundreds of tools you can use to prevent and manage stress. Here are just a few.
At times, most of us will experience the kind of stress that seems like too much to deal with on our own. Whether you turn to a trusted friend or call a therapist depends on your comfort level and the situation, but sharing your struggles with somebody else is a sure way to lighten your load.
Research has shown that people are less happy when they let their minds wander and that our minds are wandering nearly half of the time we’re awake! It seems counterintuitive, especially when life is stressful, but try to resist the urge to zone out by mindlessly eating or scrolling through your phone. Both of these activities can cause more stress. Stay in-the-moment with everyday tasks like cooking or being with a loved one, which one can give you a sense of gratitude and well-being in the midst of difficulty. If you do choose to manage your stress by binge-watching Netflix, eating ice cream, or reading a great book, let yourself get into it and experience the “distraction” completely.
One of the best ways to combat stress is to develop strong preventative habits. Here are a few suggestions:
- Eat right – The right diet can directly affect your levels of stress. Web MD has compiled a great list of ways that a stress management diet can help reduce your stress levels. See the article here: https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-diet-for-stress-management.
- Avoid excessive sugar and caffeine – especially before going to sleep.
- Exercise more – Exercise helps to reduce unhealthy stress by increasing the body’s “natural painkillers” while simultaneously decreasing stress hormones. Experts also think that exercising may help by providing a mental break from a difficult situation. Whatever the reason, exercise works!
- Meditate – Along with exercise, engaging in thought, contemplation, and reflection through meditation can be good for the body and spirit. Not sure how to start? Visit https://www.mindful.org/how-to-meditate/ for step-by-step instructions for beginners.
Getting enough nutrition, avoiding excessive sugar and caffeine, exercising, and taking time out to rest and have fun will ensure that, when stress arises, will help arm you with the right tools to manage it.
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