The American Heart Institute of Stress has reported that 90% of visits to primary care physicians are stress related disorders. Commonly ranging from stomach issues to heart disease. Did you know that job related stress costs businesses about $150 billion a year? It is important to pay attention to how you deal with minor and major stress events so that you know when to seek help.
People feel stress in different ways. Some people experience digestive symptoms, while others have headaches, sadness, insomnia, and irritability. Over time, these symptoms may contribute to major health concerns such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and depression.
Here are five tips to help manage stress:
• Be mindful of the signs – sleeplessness, low energy and feeling irritable are some signs that you need to take a break from the stressor. Give yourself permission to recharge by doing something else. What’s stressing you out may not go away but allowing yourself 20 minutes to get fresh air, take deep breaths, and meditate, can help you feel less overwhelmed and may give you a new perspective.
• Exercise – moving your body can have some direct stress relieving benefits. Studies show that regular physical activity produce endorphins in the brain that act as natural painkillers – which in turn reduces stress. A twenty minute walk during a stressful time can have immediate effect that can last several hours.
• Laugh – laughter provides a physical and emotional release which in turn increases endorphins. A good belly laugh to the point of happy tears is also a great internal workout which provides a good workout for the heart and diaphragm. Laughter also connects us with others, just as smiling and kindness do.
• Stay connected and socialize – Reach out to a friend and share your concerns. It may help to relieve stress but remember it’s important that the person whom you talk is trustworthy. Socialization, or enjoying other people’s company and maintaining a sense of connectedness to others, is an important component of stress reduction.
• Set goals and prioritize – choose what must get done and what can wait, and learn to say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload. Recognize what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do. Be sure to plan for setbacks and think about how you can plan ahead for how to deal with them if they happen.
Our bodies were designed to cope with acute stress, not the chronic stress we face daily in the workplace or at home. Chronic stress can lead to deteriorating overall health. It’s important to recognize what triggers stress and learn tools that can help you cope.