Everyone gets stressed. And when it comes to our well-being, stress is probably one of the most common factors in letting self-care habits slip. Stress can also sneak up on you; before you know it, you’re nibbling at your cuticles.
However, just because everyone gets stressed doesn’t mean we just sit back and accept it. We can learn how to work with stress and deal with it healthily.
So, if you’re concerned about stress, you’re in the right place, as this blog will explore how stress can affect our well-being and how we can counterbalance some of the negative impact.
What is stress, and how does it impact us?
I wonder if anyone in the world doesn’t get stressed? I doubt it. Because unfortunately, stress is an unavoidable reality of life, and small bouts of stress are normal.
Ultimately, stress is a reaction to a perceived or real threat, leading to hormones like cortisol and adrenaline rushing through our body, giving us the energy and alertness necessary to confront or escape danger, aka ‘fight or flight’. However, this heightened state of arousal can have adverse long-term effects on our bodies if not appropriately managed.
Over time, frequent activation of this ‘fight or flight’ response can lead to health problems such as fatigue and depression. Plus, unmanaged stress often impairs our capacity for thinking logically and making effective decisions.
To prevent stress from hurting us, we must manage and understand it. For example, relaxation techniques such as yoga or mindfulness meditation, communication with friends and family about our troubles, exercising regularly, or even seeking professional help.
Taking stock of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours around stressful situations can help us prevent and reduce its impact over time.
The different types of stress – physical, emotional, and mental
Stress is a prevalent issue in many people’s lives, and one of the best ways to understand how to manage it is by looking at its different types.
Stress comes in three primary forms:
- Physical – commonly results from illness, exercise, or injury.
- Emotional – can be caused by circumstances like workplace issues or relationship struggles.
- Mental – often related to complex problem-solving or time management challenges.
Each type of stress requires the person experiencing it to take care of themselves in unique ways. Stress management is a critical factor for many individuals, whether from physical, emotional, or mental sources.
Understanding the differences between these types of tension can be very helpful when working through difficult situations.
How to identify stress in your life
Identifying stress is an essential step to living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. As wild as it sounds, stress isn’t necessarily a negative emotion. It can motivate us and push us further than we thought possible, but it is vital to know the difference between motivational and harmful stress before it begins to take a toll on our lives.
To identify the kind of stress you may be feeling, pay attention to how your body and mind respond when you’re in a stressful situation.
If you start feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope with your emotions, consider noting when this often happens and the tell-tale signs that tell you that your body is under duress.
Remember that while some levels of stress can help us become our best selves, too much can be emotionally damaging, so it’s essential to check in with yourself regularly and take steps towards reducing any harmful forms of stress as soon as possible.
The effects of chronic stress on our health
When stress becomes chronic is when it can have a severe impact on our health. Chronic stress is a state of tension over a long period that can lead to physical and mental health problems. Symptoms can include muscle aches, headaches, and exhaustion, in addition to feeling mentally drained or having difficulty concentrating and making decisions.
For those suffering from long-term stress, the risk of developing anxiety or depression increases drastically. Research also suggests that having sustained high-stress levels can contribute to conditions like heart disease and even accelerate the ageing process.
Fortunately, there are ways to manage chronic stress through lifestyle changes, such as yoga, meditation, a change in diet, and exercise. Taking the time for self-care is vital because it helps control symptoms of stress and ultimately leads to better overall health.
Simple ways to reduce stress in your life
Stress affects us in different ways, and it can drain our energy, negatively impact our relationships, and cause physical and mental harm if left unchecked.
Fortunately, there are many simple things you can do every day to manage stress levels, such as:
- taking time to be mindful and present in the moment
- engaging in calming activities
- building positive relationships with loved ones
- even something as simple as going for a walk can help reduce stress
So, take some time out of your day to recognise the little things that bring you joy, focus on yourself, and stay away from sources of negative stress.
Coping with stress in positive ways
There are plenty of healthy ways to cope with stress, and it all comes down to taking the time for self-care.
Finding hobbies or activities that bring you joy, such as music, painting, or gardening, is a great way to channel excess energy and can help you relax. Additionally, talking about your worries with a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional is an effective way to sort through negative thoughts and refocus on the positives.
Stress is a normal part of life, but it’s essential to be aware of its impact on our bodies and minds. By understanding the different types of stress and how to identify it, we can take steps to reduce its adverse effects. And when we do experience stressful events, there are positive coping mechanisms we can use to minimise their impact on our health.
If you’re still unsure where to begin with self-care and self-compassion, I’ve created A Year of Self-Care: The Ultimate Guide & Journal to help you get started.
It provides you with everything you need to learn more about self-care and then 52 weeks of self-care prompts, reflective questions and journal prompts so that you can implement your learning and space to track your progress and reflect on your journey!