Truth: stress can kill you, or at least too much of it can. If unchecked and unmanaged, the exposure to stress can wreak havoc in all aspects of your life.
Notwithstanding the fact that being overloaded isn’t a good feeling in general, but uncontrolled stress can also have ripple effects in your personal and professional lives, at work and at home.
Consider these real dangers of stress:
- Immune System. Both chronic and acute stress can weaken your immune system, putting you more at risk for everyday illnesses. Individuals who manage their stress well have fewer bouts with the common cold, allergies, and seasonal flu.
- Other Health Risks. Exposure to stress, especially uncontrolled stress, takes a toll physiologically on your body.
- Certain chemicals, such as dopamine, epinephrine, and other neurotransmitters are released during times of stress. You may experience higher blood pressure, increased heart rate, and other symptoms when you’re stressed.
- High stress levels have been linked with many health challenges and illnesses. You are at a greater risk for strokes, heart attacks, headaches and migraines, and other cardiovascular diseases if you don’t have a system in place for dealing with and managing stress.
- Cancer has even been linked with uncontrolled stress in some research studies.
Your Mental and Physical State Without Stress
As you can see, the case can certainly be made for examining the stressors in your daily life and working towards eliminating some of the issues. Effective stress management plans will make you feel better overall, in both your physical and mental health.
You’ll experienced a greater amount of energy, experience less physical pain, and enjoy more quality of sleep because your mind won’t be preoccupied with stress.
In terms of your mental state, lower stress levels may lead to better concentration and focus, a calmer mood, and less irritability. Lower rates of depression, adjustment disorders, and other mental health issues are also experienced with lower stress levels.
Managing Your Stress – Putting Yourself First
If you say to yourself that dealing with stress is part of your job, that you just “deal” with it, or that you work well under pressure, then you may be doing more harm to yourself than good.
Indeed, many employers, institutions and organizations today are putting into place “wellness plans,” which are sometimes focused on stress management.
Creating an Individual Plan
There are all sorts of ways to get your stress under control. Perhaps the best way for you to work on getting your stress down is by coming up with a plan that is individually tailored to you and your schedule.
Consider adding these stress-reducing practices to your plan:
- Meditation and mindfulness. Meditation and mindfulness have been shown to have a positive effect on a person’s stress level and their ability to manage stress.
- These practices involve setting aside at least five or ten minutes each day to spend in a quiet space, free of distractions.
- Paying attention to your body’s natural breathing patterns is an important part of these practices. Focus on your breath and alleviate your stress.
- Exercise is also a way to de-stress. The release of endorphins to your brain acts as a buffer against stress, and is almost like a natural antidepressant. Whether you go for a daily run or take a trip to the gym, the physical activity is good for both your brain and body.
The most important part of stress management is establishing a routine. Setting aside a specific portion of your day, even if you have to schedule breaks in your work day, ensures that you’re giving yourself the time you need to de-stress.
Failing to get your stress under control, however, will lead to negative repercussions in your physical, mental, and overall well-being.
Start reducing your stress today with a regular routine of meditation, mindfulness, and exercise. Soon, you’ll be singing the praises of your practices as you see your stress melt away and you enjoy greater health.