Most of us deal with some level of daily stress. Whether it be because of work, family, relationships, or elsewhere, stress is inevitable in our lives. Managing stress looks different for everyone. We often develop management strategies that fit our lifestyles and personalities.
What happens, though, when daily stress piles up and it becomes too much to handle? When stress becomes too much and impacts our ability to complete daily tasks, stress management is especially important.
What is Stress?
Stress can be defined as a physical and psychological response to the incidents and demands that accompany us through life. Though low levels of stress are normal and can be healthy, stress can sometimes pile up in a way that makes it feel impossible to overcome.
A stress response occurs because the human brain has a series of alerts that trigger when we feel that we need to protect ourselves. Stress releases specific hormones and our brains see these hormonal changes as a threat to our safety. When the threat has been dealt with, most people return to a sense of normalcy.
However, some individuals struggle more than others to manage their stress levels.
The Effects of Unmanaged Stress
When so many things in our lives result in stress reactions, attempting to manage stress levels can feel even more stressful than simply feeling overwhelmed all the time.
Unmanaged stress can negatively affect the body and the mind. Constant, unmanaged stress can result in:
- Irritability & Depression
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Stomach and Bowel Issues
- Headaches & Migraines
- Weight Loss or Weight Gain
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Chronic Tension in the Body
- Increases in Blood Pressure
Finally, the concerns mentioned above can coexist with one another and continue to build. For example, lack of sleep can increase a person’s irritability and trouble concentrating which leads to even greater stress levels.
Stress can weaken the immune system as well, making it far easier to become sick. Further, sicknesses can be more severe for individuals who are chronically stressed than it is for individuals who manage stress adequately.
Stress Management Tips
Managing stress can look different from person to person, and at times, managing stress is far easier said than done.
Try one or more of the following stress management tips to determine which actions are most appropriate for your needs.
- Understand your triggers so that you can find ways to either avoid them or manage them.
- Set priorities for yourself so that you can use your time wisely. Live on a schedule to help prevent stress from building.
- Get moderate exercise and eat a healthy diet.
- Turn off electronics and spend 30 quiet minutes winding down before bed.
- Practice relaxation techniques and set aside time for yourself when you have it.
Finally, if you’re struggling to manage stress despite your best efforts, there is no shame in reaching out for help. Whether you speak with a friend, a trusted family member, or seek professional assistance from a therapist, support can make a world of difference. If you know that you need help managing stress, don’t hesitate to ask for it.