The pandemic that is sweeping the globe has generated unprecedented changes to the American lifestyle. These changes, such as massive layoffs, business closures, food and supply shortages, and social distancing, have the potential to produce negative stress. While both negative and positive stress are often present in an individual’s life, prolonged exposure to unresolved stress can have a damaging effect on the human body. In order to raise awareness about the devastating effect of stress, April has been designated as National Stress Awareness Month.
A National Condition
As mentioned, stress is common in individuals around the country. Around 77% of Americans have reported that they struggle with stress at such a level that physical symptoms and complications are present in their lives. Close to 33% report that they are plagued by extreme stress, while another 48% of Americans say their personal and professional lives are significantly but negatively impacted by stress. Stress can interfere with workplace productivity, as stress impacts an individual to get a good night’s sleep. Prolonged stress often leads to fatigue and depression, but these can be compounded by other physical symptoms. Serious health concerns with cardiovascular disease, hair loss, and digestive concerns have the potential to a disrupt normal life and a hopeful future. In order to avoid this narrative, here are several tips for either managing or preventing stress in your life.
It Starts With the Basics
In terms of prevention, the solution to stress starts with very simple but effective steps. Getting into a practice that embraces healthy eating, routine exercise, and adequate sleep routines can be a key way to combat stress. Healthy eating (a diet full of fresh, whole foods with limited intake of stimulant products) is able to naturally improve the body’s response to elevated stress levels. Regular exercise reduces your body’s blood pressure and provides an outlet for stress relief. Walking or jogging is advised as being some of the most effective relief exercises, though a recommended amount is at least 30 minutes a day for at least five days a week. Finally, getting enough sleep is the mental boost you need to deal rationally and evenly with stressful situations. Sleep deprivation has been linked to increases in depression and anxiety. Turn off electronics at least an hour before bed, opting for a calming routine like meditating or yoga. This will send signals to your brain to relax, which helps prepare you for a restful night.
Learn to Relax
Not everything you do to relieve stress will have a positive impact. For instance, some use playing video games or online gambling as a way to relieve their tension. These aren’t the most healthy forms of relaxation. Others have a problem taking the time or putting in the effort to relax. They are too busy or feel they need to be in a yoga studio to relax. With a little bit of proactive attention, you can learn to relax just about anywhere. Sometimes you can rely on deep breathing activities to help mitigate your rising stress levels, while other situations may call for a retreat to a quiet room. Making relation a priority rather than an afterthought can go a long way in addressing your stress. Look for healthy ways to calm down, such as a long walk, a talk with a friend, a hot bubble bath, or meditation. Be prepared to relax often in order to effectively address your stress.
Find Ways to Share
Some individuals find their minds on autopilot, continuing to race with thoughts of the day or anxieties about tomorrow. This can make it difficult to focus on work tasks or on conversations with a spouse or friend. Overactive minds can also keep an individual from sleeping well at night. By letting your thoughts out, maybe through writing them down or talking to a counselor or trusted friend, you are able to release some of the pent-up stress in your life. Journaling is a way to let your personal thoughts out, and it sends a signal to the brain that you no longer need to hold onto those feelings or thoughts. Talking your problems or concerns over with a trusted family member or friend also provides your brain a feeling of relief, but one of these individuals may have sound advice or assistance to help you navigate the challenge you are facing.
Take a Proactive Approach
At the end of the day, you are the best person to know when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. When you are fatigued and have little mental stamina, these can be signs that your body is dealing with too much chaos. Take an inventory of the things going on in your life, then come up with a plan to reduce the influence of stress and deal with what you are feeling.
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