While small amounts of stress are beneficial to help you achieve your goals, larger amounts are dangerous.
Commonly referred to as good stress, small doses of stress push your body into action. Everyday you face situations which put you under pressure and your stress levels go up.
For instance, you can have a task whose deadline is almost due and your boss is waiting for the report.
The stress from this situation will make your brain more focused and concentrate all your efforts towards finishing the task on time.
If this situation is always recurring because of too much work or poor time management, then the stress will become bad stress because it is now chronic.
This article will help you handle the bad stress.
With stress levels always on the rise, life is seemingly only painting grimmer pictures by the day. Recent research shows that 43% of Americans are stressed about health care, 61% about their work and 63% about the future of the nation.
These statistics tell us that it is actually some of the most important things in life that cause us stress. For instance, don’t we all want to stay healthy and be assured of available and affordable health care?
As a result of worrying about the future of the nation, many want to stay updated on current matters. Interestingly, 56% admit to getting even more stressed by news, even as 72% say that the media blows things out of proportion.
Can you see the danger in these statistics?
People are stressed about their future and so in an effort to make better plans and decisions, look for information.
The information sources they have, always exaggerate what is going on. This causes the people to become more stressed.
They consume the news anyway and seeing that things don’t look good, they get even more stressed and become more worried about the future.
In order to be able to make better plans, they look for more information…and the cycle continues.
Whenever stress is not dealt with, it forms a cycle which enslaves the mind.
A practical example is working in an organization where there is always too much work. Eager to finish your work, you put in a lot of effort but because there is just too much to be done, you can’t finish it. The thought of getting to your office in the morning and seeing your in-tray full with the previous day’s work stresses you.
So you try finishing it before the new day’s work comes in and you simply cannot manage to. In such a situation, your stress levels remain high, making you a potential victim of bad stress. Continuous exposure to bad stress can easily lead to depression.
Let’s look at some negative effects of stress.
NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF STRESS
As part of life, stress will always be present and it comes with effects.
Negative effects come from chronic stress.
Here are some problems you may face when you allow stress to run your life.
Lack Of Sleep
Your body’s response to stress is usually through the release of certain hormones to help tackle the situation.
One particular hormone, cortisol, is responsible for maintaining the ‘fight or flight’ status.
Ideally, you take the necessary action and your body resumes its normal operations.
At this point, cortisol reduces and all is well. When the stressful situation persists, cortisol levels increase as it is continuously pumped into the blood.
High levels of cortisol in the blood will keep you active as long as this hormone thinks it’s necessary.
In this active state, sleep will evade you. You may find yourself busy at night because you have the energy or simply settled in bed with no sleep.
As your mind works to help you with the stressful situation, it fails to relax enough to allow you to sleep. This can turn into a lifestyle if not dealt with.
The more you stay awake trying to deal with stress, the less you sleep, meaning you wake up the following day without having rested enough.
Getting to work with a tired mind sets the stage for more stress because you will either not complete the day’s work, or you’ll complete it with errors. When this cycle continues, the problem gets worse.
Prolonged stress causes depression. Depression is a result of stress building up to levels not easy to deal with.
Although you need a professional to correctly diagnose it, signs can be evident.
Some symptoms include anxiety, lack of interest in activities, sadness, hopelessness, social isolation and suicidal thoughts.
At this point, it is important that you get urgent help from medical professionals. The sad part is that you may have withdrawn from friends and family to the point that nobody really knows the danger you are in.
In most cases, these are the people who would organize for you to get help.
With depression causing life to seemingly lack meaning, it is best to detect the symptoms early and act accordingly to avoid suicide.
Your body’s immune system is also affected when you get stressed.
When stress hormones are pumped into your bloodstream, the production of immune cells is suppressed.
With fewer immune cells in your body, you become vulnerable to sicknesses. Your body is then unable to effectively detect and fight threats coming from harmful pathogens.
Since there are toxins all around, whether you stay at home or go to work, a low immunity resulting from stress can quickly become overbearing. You will easily be taken down by ‘small’ illnesses like colds.
This in itself will create an environment of more stress as you think of medication, become unproductive at work, not being able to go out with friends etc.
High Blood Pressure
All stressful situations increase your blood pressure.
This is because the response which is to enable you deal with stress includes energy being released into the blood. This energy needs to be transported to the necessary body muscles in the shortest time possible.
This is achieved when the heart beats faster and blood vessels are constricted so that blood flows to the core of the body and not necessarily all over the body. The constricted blood vessels and high heart rate are what cause high blood pressure.
Whereas this is good for short-term stressful periods, long-term stress is dangerous for your heart. Although when not in physical danger you may not notice a constant pumping of blood, in the background, your heart is actually working harder than normal.
When stressed, your brain demands more resources because of the need for a lot of thinking in an attempt to get a solution.
As long as the situation prevails, your heart will keep pumping at a higher rate than normal.
Obviously, the sooner stress is cleared, the better.
This is arguably the worst thing that could happen to you as a result of stress.
It is the one nightmare you dread having yet can become a reality if stress persists. With fertility requiring suitable conditions, stress hormones mess with the brain’s ability to provide this environment.
With the results being as physical as erectile dysfunction in men and suppressed ovulation in women, it is crucial that stress be addressed early and comprehensively.
When stress causes infertility, things are bound to only get worse, obviously, unless quick and decisive action is taken.
This is because infertility itself causes stress and can lead to depression.
CLEARING STRESS FROM YOUR MIND
With the knowledge of some of the negative effects of stress, it’s time you know how to curb the problem.
The methods you will learn below are both curative and preventive measures which you can take to either avoid stress or clear it from your mind.
Sleep can never be over-emphasized as a solution to stress.
There is a direct connection between the stress hormone cortisol and sleep quality.
The more you sleep, the lower the levels of cortisol in your blood.
As your body takes a rest, many of its operations slow down and attention goes to repairing the worn out tissues.
Tissues generally wear out during any kind of work, especially physical work.
These cannot be repaired when your mind is still actively at work as is the case when you’re stressed.
Sleeping therefore gives your body the opportunity to take stock of the damage incurred during the day and make repairs for the following day.
As this repair is going on, sleeping itself restrains the secretion of cortisol. Once cleared, this stress hormone takes a back seat and awaits the next time it will be released for its normal functions.
Exercising is key for your body to function properly.
It is also a great stress buster as your brain temporarily focuses on a different thing other than stress.
At the same time, exercises cause the release of endorphins, the hormones associated with feeling good.
When you feel good, stress just gets displaced.
Some exercises which you may try are:
The beauty of dancing is that first of all, it is fun.
Whereas you can have more fun when dancing in a social setting e.g. with friends or in a dancing class, doing it alone can also work.
This is especially true if that is what your personality would rather go for. You also get to choose the music to dance to, determine the duration, when to have it louder (minding your neighbors), how many times you play a single song etc.
The possibilities of having fun are limitless and the core of dancing to relieve stress is the release of endorphins.
Feeling good after dancing paves way for a relaxed mind and body and handling stress becomes easier. The below video shows one way of doing this.
This exercise involves the whole body, making it more comprehensive than others.
Great for the release of endorphins, it leaves you feeling good even as your body’s muscles get worked out.
While stress and its bigger brother depression bring about lower self-confidence, swimming stimulates you to joy and results in higher levels of self-esteem.
As you take the different strokes, you will end up with an improved posture and greater body flexibility.
Requiring coordination between the strokes will also help you focus and break free from the stress. Swimming also boosts blood flow, further helping improve brain functioning.
A similarity between this exercise and the other two is that it stimulates the release of endorphins.
More than that, kickboxing helps you expel negative energy and attain clarity of mind.
This fighting exercise builds your confidence as you become aware of your ability to fight off physical danger. An increase in confidence makes you feel better and reduces stress.
Other benefits are improved focus, decision-making abilities and physical strength. You will also get toned muscles and shed some weight if that’s a problem for you.
Listen To Soothing Music
Music is just as therapeutic as it is entertaining.
With the many different genres though, you will have to be specific on which one you listen to when fighting stress.
For example, you cannot be stressed then expect to be relieved after listening to hard rock. You will need some slow and soft music which will create the right atmosphere for your brain to relax.
Soothing music comes in different forms.
You should choose which one to listen to depending on your preferences. Ranging from blues, RnB (Rhythm and Blues), soft rock to some sub-genres of reggae, the collection to choose from is wide.
An alternative is to listen to some soft instrumentals. You can find some which consist purely of piano sound. Some jazz music is also good for this.
You do not have to be particularly a music lover to use this method as a stress reliever. Just listening to any music which calms you down will provide your brain with the right environment to start the process of reversing the effects of stress.
If you are completely not sure where to start, you can check out some of the examples at the bottom of this site.
Read / Watch Motivational Material
This method will work differently from soothing music in that it will not calm you down. Instead, it will enlighten or remind you of your ability to deal with the situation.
At this point, you need to differentiate between two terms which many use interchangeably though they are not the same in meaning. The words are inspiration and motivation. Inspiration is something that comes from within you while motivation comes from external sources.
You can rarely get stressed by doing something you are inspired to do because you will be enjoying it all the way and when you get tired, you will be at ease to have some rest and continue later.
With inspiration, it is always about getting the fulfillment that comes with completing the task.
Motivation works differently though. When you have something to work on, don’t feel like doing it but have no choice, you need motivation. It is not always in abundant supply and that is why you can easily get stressed.
In most cases, upon starting a task, you are sure of your ability to finish it well and on time.
However, due to distractions of different kinds, you end up either finishing late or not finishing it at all.
Still, you know for sure that you have the ability to do it. Reading or watching motivational material gets you back to the point of realizing you can still do it.
The below video is a great motivational material which you can use to remind yourself that you have what it takes. The only other thing you need is to stay focused.
This excites your body and you may want to start working on the task immediately.
It is however important that you consider the time of reading this material. If reading late at night, do not engage in any physical work but just retire to bed.
The excitement will be present for the following day, just ensure you read again when you wake up in the morning.
Alternatively, just do the whole reading first thing in the morning before engaging in other activities.
Stress comes when you have so much to do and accomplish that you either forget the other aspects of your life or simply lack the time for them.
Your social life is very important to your overall well-being. This is how the phrase get a life came into being. If you have no friends or have them but have no time for them, you basically have no life.
When stressed, you need to locate one of your close friends and share the matter with him. Undoubtedly, it depends on the issue itself.
Whereas being overworked might be easy to share with any of your friends, some deeply-personal issues may be best for only one person to know. Sometimes, it may be too personal that you prefer that nobody knows about it. Still, you should not bottle it up.
If you are not comfortable letting your friends or family know of the situation which is stressing you, you can contact a counselor for help.
Counselors normally work on confidential terms thus you can be sure that whatever you talk about will not be disclosed to anyone. The important thing is to ensure that you talk to someone about it.
Ordinarily, you may not even need someone to give you a solution. Stress clogs the mind and stops you from seeing things clearly in order to reason them out.
When you talk to someone, you release the pressure from your mind.
The person you are talking to may also help you see things from a different perspective, making it easier for you to tackle the issue stressing you.
Deal With The Cause
There is always a cause behind every outcome. The stress you are experiencing is as a result of something.
If the cause is clear and you know what to do in order to put an end to it, then that will be the best way out. If you do not know the cause of the stress, you will need to find that out first.
Before you start, make sure you are not in the process of doing any work. Sit down in a comfortable position, take a pen and paper or notebook.
This is for writing the answers to the questions you will ask yourself as you look to find out the cause of the stress.
Ensure you allow your mind to check several possible answers and don’t rush to the first response that comes to mind.
Also, try getting the explanation behind the answer i.e. why that answer is the correct one. Here are the questions you can use to find out what caused the stress.
- When did the stress begin?
- Where were you (office, home, on the road, at a friend’s place etc)?
- Who were you with (colleague, sibling, friend, neighbor etc)?
- What were you doing (driving, working, chatting)?
- What triggered it (a rebuke, quarrel, insult etc)?
- What was my initial response (insult, shouted, fear, silence etc)?
- Was it the right response?
These questions will guide you in taking the journey into your recent past to find out what got you stressed. You can add others if you see the need.
At the heart of this method is providing a means of going back in time to the period just before the stress began.
From there, you start playing back the events which took place. Try to remember as much as possible and do not be in a hurry to finish this process.
Allow your mind to slowly recall the details because these are what will point you to the right direction.
After collecting the information, you are now ready to come up with a solution.
Do not be angry and condemn yourself if you realize you were on the wrong or you are the one who aggravated the situation by giving a wrong response.
Remember that you’re finding a solution. Spot where the problem began and think of how best to make appropriate changes.
Whatever solution you come up with, implement it as soon as possible.
If the cause was a conflict and you need to apologize to someone, do it without thinking of how that will embarrass you.
Holding back the apology makes the problem bigger and more difficult to tackle as time goes by.
To curb any embarrassment, you can explain the need to apologize by expressing your respect for the other person and the need for you two to work together.
Here is an example of how this can work.
You are stressed about your wife quarreling you for not coming home early. You got into an argument and now you are not talking with each other.
The same thing happened yesterday.
You got home at 8.00 PM and your wife was not happy because apart from being late, she questioned why you never communicated.
You became angry and responded in a way she thought was harsh though you don’t think it was.
Finding out the cause
- When did the stress begin? – Yesterday.
- Where were you? – In the office.
- Who were you with? – Alone.
- What were you doing? – Working.
- What triggered the stress? – Your manager gave you some extra work despite you explaining that you already had a lot of unfinished work. Knowing that your colleague Sam had finished most of his tasks, you suggested he gets the extra work but your manager insisted you should do it. Your conclusion? Your manager was treating you unfairly.
- What was your initial response? – You thought about asking for assistance from Sam but decided otherwise.
- Was it the right response? – No. (Why?) Considering that Sam seems to be free, you should have asked him for assistance. With the deadline for the work’s delivery soon approaching, you may continue getting stressed and arriving home late. Furthermore, the stress at work is likely to make you forget again to communicate about getting home late.
Since the problem is neither your wife nor your home, you need to apologize to your wife and explain the situation. Tomorrow ask for assistance from Sam so you can minimize on the possibilities of leaving the office late.
If you find that the trip to history is confusing, try picking out specific stressful situations to deal with and not being general.
If there are three stressful situations, separate them first.
If they are connected, then check where the connection starts then handle them separately till that point.
This way, you will be able to see how each contributed to the whole situation.
Aromatherapy is the use of scents from essential oils (concentrated oil extracted from plants) to bring healing to the body.
You can use this method to relieve your mind of stress.
The oil is usually extracted from the parts of the plant e.g. leaves, bark, roots, stem etc.
Different scents serve different purposes. Some excite the brain while others calm it down.
It is the calming scents that you will want to use for relieving stress. The main ones are chamomile and lavender.
Some people use these oils by gently rubbing them on the temples of their heads. When you smell it however, you get a better sense of relief and calm.
The below video shows how you can get the benefits of aromatherapy.
Get A Massage
A massage is common for soothing body aches and relieving stress. You can get a massage at home though better results come from a massage therapist, previously known as a masseuse.
This website shows how you can do some massage on yourself or someone else without the need for a trained therapist.
As it eases your muscles into a state of relaxation, a massage plays a big role in helping with stress. When your muscles remain tensed for a long time, you will experience joint pains, neck pains and headaches.
Some massage centers use a combination of aromatherapy and massage to help you relax more easily.
Though some oils are known to help while used in their original forms, most of these centers have their own unique blends which they have developed.
It is also a good idea to make massage a part of your lifestyle.
Take A Walk
Health practitioners have always said that walking is one of the best exercises. This has mainly been in relation to dealing with heart problems.
Walking does more than that.
Deciding to take a walk instead of sitting alone overthinking the situation, opens up your mind to relaxation.
Do not walk while engaging your mind in whatever is stressing you. If you do this especially where there is vehicle or human traffic, you may cause an accident since you are unaware of your environment.
Walking has been linked to the release of endorphins. Classified as an aerobic exercise, walking has great stress relief benefits especially at a fast pace.
Things will work out best if you walk in an area which is set apart for recreation e.g. a park. As your mind takes in the fresh air in the park and you see others resting, playing, jogging etc, you will be drawn towards relaxation.
This is what you want as the end result because with your brain having worked hard to get a solution, some relaxing is key.
Slow Things Down
Much of the stress you have is as a result of having a hectic life.
Though this is more of a norm in today’s ever-busy life, you need to take care of yourself by avoiding too much work.
When you have a lot of things to do, you soon get overwhelmed and stress kicks in because deadlines are usually attached to the work.
Planning for your work is a fundamental part of slowing things down.
A common mistake many people do is saying ‘yes’ to many tasks or people seeking their attention. The ‘yes’ becomes a commitment which carries with it a timeline.
Whereas you may have a high sense of confidence in your abilities to deliver, you should factor in time for your rest. Resting involves having time for your hobbies too.
The best way to implement this is by planning on how to spend your time. Out of the 24 Hrs in a day, after setting aside time for sleeping, have time to relax yourself in any other way you may choose.
When you have this time already defined, then you can safely divide the remaining time for the workload you have.
For every task, set some little extra time so as to take care of possible distractions which may come up.
It’s true that throughout the years, the nutrient and mineral count in foods has reduced.
For this reason, supplements have become the preferred go-to solution for required nutrients.
It is however recommended that you use supplements only after consulting a qualified nutritionist or other certified medical professionals.
There are many supplements available which can help you combat stress. Here are three major ones which are sure to feature in the recommendation list of any health adviser.
Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B is called complex because it comes in eight forms i.e. B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12. It has many uses in your body including aiding in digestion, growth of babies and production of red blood cells.
Vitamin B Complex fights stress by helping in mood balancing, improving the immune system, energy production and general brain health. It also has powerful antioxidant properties, helping your body develop protection against the death of healthy cells.
Vitamin B5 is known to manage the production of stress hormones while B9 helps against depression and memory loss. B1 comes in handy to boost your immune system as B12 increases your energy levels so you can feel less tired and handle stress better.
Vitamin B3 is helpful in preventing depression.
L-theanine is an amino acid which naturally occurs mainly in tea. It is popular for causing relaxation without sedation.
This means that you can rely on it to calm your mind and body without making you sleepy. It is great for a stressful mid-morning or afternoon when you still need to finish some work.
By clearing your mind, you will be able to focus your attention on the task at hand.
L-theanine works fast and helps you finish your day well. In as few as 30 minutes after taking it, you are likely to notice the difference.
You will mostly experience the benefits of L-theanine if you are particularly highly stressed because the supplements available are meant to deal with that.
If you are only a little stressed, then you may get better by simply taking a cup of black tea. This will give you approximately 20 mg of L-theanine. Supplements usually provide higher dosages. The recommended dosage from supplements is 100 – 200 mg per day.
Magnesium is essential for many processes in your body.
It helps in transmission of nerve impulses, breaking down proteins, bone mineralization, muscular contraction among other things. It works mainly by helping other processes run smoothly.
The easiest way to detect low magnesium levels is by the symptom of muscle tightness.
Muscles tense as a reflex response to stress. As a result, this triggers the release of stress hormones. When you have the right amount of magnesium in your body, your muscles will be relaxed, preventing stress.
Stress in itself causes a depletion of magnesium since it gets excreted through urination. Taking magnesium supplements therefore helps you prevent future stress and clear it if you already have it.
In stimulating GABA receptors (inhibitors of brain activity), magnesium helps relax your body. It also helps lower blood pressure, one of the effects of stress.
Magnesium intake should be in the form of magnesium l-threonate for stress and magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate for dealing with deficiency.
There are other forms which should be advised by a professional because they have different laxative effects which can make you have uncomfortably many trips to the washroom.
Have A Career Change
When your stress levels are always going up due to the kind of work you do, it may be prudent to consider a career change.
Work takes up the most of your active hours in a day and so you should ensure you always have time for yourself.
If you try the other methods discussed in this article but find your work constantly stressing you, then it is only reasonable that you change careers.
Though this can be challenging depending on your current career and how much resources you have invested in it, look at it as a long-term solution.
Carefully research on the options you have and upon settling on one, make adequate preparations for the change.
These preparations may include setting a date by which to leave your current career, taking a course on the soon-to-be-taken career and starting to network with the people in that industry.
Stress is common in life but should never be ignored when it becomes part of your lifestyle. Adopt some of the above methods to deal with and avoid stress.
When you do this, you will soon notice that you are more productive and happier. Your life will also become more meaningful.
As a quick reminder, here are the ways of clearing stress from your mind:
- Listen to soothing music
- Read / Watch motivational material
- Open up
- Deal with the cause
- Practice aromatherapy
- Get a massage
- Take a walk
- Slow things down
- Take supplements
- Have a career change
What is your favorite way of dealing with stress?
What are 10 ways to reduce stress? ›
- Be active. ...
- Take control. ...
- Connect with people. ...
- Have some "me time" ...
- Challenge yourself. ...
- Avoid unhealthy habits. ...
- Help other people. ...
- Work smarter, not harder.
- Talk to a friend. ...
- Read a great book. ...
- Write down your thoughts in a journal. ...
- Hit the gym hard. ...
- Go for a long run. ...
- Go punch for punch in the boxing ring. ...
- Take some time to meditate. ...
- Unplug from technology and go for a walk or hike.
- 2.Relax Your Muscles.
- 3.Deep Breathing.
- 4.Eat Well.
- 5.Slow Down.
- 6.Take a Break.
- 7.Make Time for Hobbies.
- 8.Talk About Your Problems.
- Exercise. You don't need a gym to exercise. ...
- Go outside. Connect with nature in your backyard. ...
- Aromatherapy. Pull out those old scented candles and inhale a calming scent. ...
- Journal. ...
- Listen to calming music. ...
- Sing. ...
- Laugh. ...
Take care of your body.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, and substance use.
- Create schedules and use checklists. To minimize stress and last minute tasks, keep track of all of the important things you need to accomplish and then prioritize them. ...
- Take time for yourself. Life is busy. ...
- Exercise and relax. ...
- Set Small Goals.
Meditate or practice yoga. Work in the garden or do a home improvement project. Go for a walk, run or bike ride to clear your head. Read a book, short story or magazine.What are 3 ways to de stress? ›
- Practice breathing exercises. Focus on your breath, pushing all other thoughts aside. ...
- Meditate. Meditation helps quiet your mind. ...
- Mindfulness. ...
- Practice gratitude. ...
- Call a support person. ...
- Do relaxation exercises. ...
- Exercise. ...
- Immerse yourself in a creative outlet.
- Take a 10 minute walk. According to a few experts if you take a walk it will help reduce endorphins in the system that cause stress.
- Practice mindfulness. ...
- Create an exercise regiment. ...
- Write a reflection journal. ...
- Organize yourself.
Self-care is an important part of managing stress. A few simple strategies you may want to try are yoga, lighting candles, taking baths, and reading a good book.
How can I calm my heart and mind? ›
- Exercise. Getting regular exercise and making it a point to increase your activity level throughout the day can reduce stress. ...
- Laugh. Laughter is a great way to reduce stress hormones. ...
- Practice yoga. ...
- Give thanks. ...
- Meditate or pray. ...
- Breathe deep. ...
- Listen to music. ...
- Go for a hike.
- Talk, Talk, Talk! Turn to family and friends, or even a trained therapist, to discuss things in your life that are causing stress. ...
- Exercise Regularly. ...
- Engage in Meditation. ...
- Healthy Diet. ...
- Stay Organized. ...
- Practice Positive Self-talk.
- Take care of yourself. Avoid drugs and alcohol as they can add to stress. ...
- Engage in self-relaxation. ...
- Take breaks when needed. ...
- Seek out social support. ...
- Connect with others socially. ...
- Maintain a normal routine. ...
- Give back to others.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity is a powerful short-term stress reliever. ...
- Eat well. Eating a poor diet can aggravate your stress response. ...
- Practice mindfulness. ...
- Try relaxation techniques.