Stress and Health: Why and How to Manage Chronic Stress

In recent years, we’ve learned how chronic stress can affect our entire well-being, both mentally and physically, but did you know that stress can actually lead to a multitude of physical health problems?

In the TED talk below, educator, Sharon Horesh Bergquist, shows the viewer what happens inside the body when we’re under chronic stress. We learn that stress can affect everything from heart health to brain health to gut health.

Since the long-term effects of chronic-stress can be detrimental, it’s important to manage exposure to chronic stress. But in our high-stress environment, how do we attempt to manage our stress levels?

Here are a few of actionable ways to manage chronic stress

Identify Your Triggers

What stresses one person out might not have the same effect on another person so it’s important to understand what triggers you. The Mayo Clinic suggests a self-assessment of the situations that cause stress in your life. It’s also important to remember that positive situations like starting a new job or getting married can also add to stress levels.

Respond Differently

As the Ted talk states, changing the way we view a situation could help manage stress. The brain is focused on how we respond to stressful situations so if we can change our perspective we could decrease our stress levels. For example when in heavy traffic or dealing with unanticipated schedule changes, instead of getting angry or upset, we could instead recognize these situations as out of our control.

Find a Way to Relax, Everyday

The American Heart Association recommends daily relaxation as a management tool. It notes that “relaxation” means more than just watching a favorite show on television. Options include mindful breathing, reading a favorite book or taking up a hobby.

Take Care of Your Body

Just as we learned that stress can negatively impact our physical health, poor physical health can also lead to an increased feeling of stress. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and keeping yourself hydrated. Exercise is also an important way to combat stress. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity five times a week.

Remove Unnecessary Stressors

We are a society that tends to take on too much, which can contribute to chronic stress. It could be possible that too much is on your plate. It’s perfectly acceptable from time to time to assess your commitments in life and consider whether or not to remove some of them. For example, maybe you’ve been PTA president for a really long time or made the office coffee every morning for the past few years. It might be time to pass the torch to someone else.

With the holidays fast approaching, stress management is of the utmost importance. What are some ways you manage stress?

Questions? We’re always here to help. Contact MAP® today.

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