Stress is an unavoidable part of our daily lives. It can stem from minor stressors such as being late to a work meeting, or major stressors such as financial issues. The key to handling any kind of stress is to prevent it from building up so much it overwhelms you.
Why does stress affect us so much? Stress is a survival mechanism tied to our nervous system. When your body perceives immediate danger, stress hormones rush to your bloodline, increasing your blood pressure, heart rate and glucose levels to help you face the situation at hand.
Long-term stress can harm you mentally, as well as physically. Here are a few common signs and symptoms of stress:
- Frequent sickness
- Decreased energy
- Digestive issues
- Heart disease
So how can you alleviate your stress?
- Exercise:Putting physical stress on your body can help relieve mental stress. Exercise releases endorphins, improve your mood and act as natural pain killers. Find an activity that you enjoy such as hiking, dancing or yoga. Learn activities you can do around the Pittsburgh area here.
- Reduce your caffeine intake: Caffeine is a stimulant, and high doses of it can increase anxiety. If caffeine makes you feel jittery or anxious, you may want to consider cutting your intake.
- Spend time with family, friends or a pet: Social activities can reduce your risk of anxiety by providing an outlet to unwind. Having a network gives you a sense of belonging and self-worth, along with a support system you can lean on.
- Let it out: Whether you prefer to write down your thoughts or talk through it with a friend, let your feelings come out. Start with discussing or writing what is bothering you, then list things you are grateful for.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is about being in the present moment. This practice combats negative thinking. You can practice mindfulness through meditation or yoga.
Need to quickly unwind? Here are a few ideas:
- Take a walk
- Do yoga
- Read a book
- Spend time with a friend
- Light a candle
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