One of the most stressful things you’ll ever have to deal with is life itself.
The pressures of work, commuting, paying bills, childcare, illness – it all mounts up. And while some people are able to keep a cool head and sail through life seemingly unperturbed by it all, the majority of us often find it all a little too much to bear.
What is stress?
Stress is that feeling of being unable to cope with what’s going on in our lives.
This could be down to a credit card bill we can’t pay, or simply because we’re stuck in traffic on the way to work. Many people also find that stress creeps up on them when they have too much to do in a given time, such as in the workplace.
When people say ‘it’s all in your head’ they’re right to a certain degree, because stress is all to do with our mental perception of things. However, if not dealt with effectively, stress can turn into a disturbing array of physical symptoms too.
When people say ‘it’s all in your head’ they’re right to a certain degree, because stress is all to do with our perception of things
There are all kinds of physical symptoms of stress that can manifest themselves over time. One of the most common is muscle tension, which can lead to headaches. In themselves, these can make you even more stressed out, as you may feel that you’re unable to do as much as you normally would.
Then there’s the tiredness. Being stressed uses up a lot of energy, causing you to feel even more tired than you normally would. And, if your stress becomes really bad, you can even feel nauseous and lose your appetite.
The best ways to deal with stress
When you have a build up of stress, one of the best ways to burn it off is exercise. A 30-minute blast of cardio can rid your body of a lot of the tension it’s been holding onto and make you feel a whole lot better very quickly.
Yoga has also been proven to reduce feelings of stress, by changing an area of the brain called the amygdala that controls fear and anxiety.
Increasing your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to help calm stress and worry. It’s also vital to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables on a daily basis and drink lots of water, to keep yourself healthy and your body functioning as well as it possibly can.
If you can possibly face mornings without caffeine, cut it out. Caffeine raises your heartrate and can contribute to feelings of stress. Try a soothing herbal tea instead, like chamomile. And end your day with something that will send you off into a blissful night’s sleep, like a valerian or passionflower infusion.
It’s been a buzzword for a few years now, and with good reason. Mindfulness is one of the simplest ways that you can successfully manage stress in the long term. And anyone can do it.
Mindfulness means being aware of everything you’re doing, rather than running on autopilot. For example, how many times have you driven somewhere and realised you have no recollection of your journey?
By becoming more aware of what is going on around you, as well as your thoughts and feelings, you can respond to things in a much calmer manner, thereby reducing stress.
Many people who practice mindfulness also do regular meditation, further enabling them to improve their quality of life. Those who’ve practiced the techniques for many years say they can simply ‘push’ any negative thoughts out of their minds.