We hear it all the time… “I’m so stressed!” Stress is a normal human reaction that happens to everyone. When changes in your life occur, your body reacts. This can lead to stress. Sometimes, when you are stressed, you feel things such as stomach problems, difficulty sleeping, sadness and even chest pain.
Causes of Stress
There are many causes of stress and they can be different for each person. Short-term stress can occur when you are taking a test, driving in traffic or doing a presentation at work. Longer term stress includes events like work changes, family dynamics, money, kids and other significant life changes. Stress is hard to measure and affects everyone differently. Two people may be going through similar situations situations but may report different amounts of stress. This is because everyone reacts to and handles stress differently.
Tips for Relief
Instead of letting stress take over, try a variety of different strategies to reduce it.
- Exercise – Movement can be a very effective stress reducer. Exercise has been shown to improve your mood by releasing endorphins and reducing your stress hormones. Even a quick 15-minute walk can do the trick.
- Take Care of Yourself – Eating well, getting enough rest and drinking plenty of fluids are key to stress management. When your body is in tune, you are less likely to be affected by stress. However, many find it difficult to focus more on themselves. Try spending just an extra few minutes on yourself each day.
- Don’t Overcommit – Saying “yes” to everyone can wind up stressful. Adding an extra work commitment, being the team mom or agreeing to watch your neighbor’s dog can sound like a good idea at the time, but can also add to your already-full plate. Be very careful as you choose your commitments.
- Have a Support Network – Surround yourself with family and friends who can help you through your more stressful days. Having a friend to chat with after a rough day or taking time to unwind by watching a movie with loved ones can be great stress reducers.
- Breathe – One deep breath can increase your oxygen levels, clear your mind and give you time to reset.
- Relax – Although your to-do list is important, so is planning some downtime. You can reduce stress by reading a book, watching your favorite TV show or enjoying the sunset.
- Get Organized – Sometimes, checking items off your list can make a difference, but a list a mile long can be overwhelming. Take a moment each morning or evening to determine your plan for the day and accomplish what’s on your task list.
Stress will vary throughout your life, but stress management is a skill that many can master with time. Be patient with yourself as you master the changes. You may find your responsibilities difficult to manage and become overwhelmed despite your attempts to relax. If this is the case, consider seeing a counselor or health professional for additional help.