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Understanding the Different Types of Stress
Stress might be something everyone experiences, but that doesn’t mean you just have to deal with it. However, before you can find a good way to relax, you need to know the source of the stress. There are many different types of stresses in your life, from financial to relationship stress.
Acute and Chronic Stress
First of all, two common types of stress are acute and chronic stress. All other types of stress will fit into one of these categories.
Acute stress is more about individual situations that will lead to you feeling stressed out, such as your car breaking down or a relationship ending. Acute stress comes on suddenly and is experienced in a severe degree of emotion.
With chronic stress, it is something you experience on a regular basis and has been going on for awhile. This might be from work, finances, or other problems in your life that tend to keep happening over and over again. Chronic stress can also be related to a simple overwhelming feeling that you can’t quite keep up with everything in your life and are so overwhelmed on a regular basis that you experience the stress almost constantly.
Personal and Relationship Stress
A very common reason to be stressed is due to your personal life, particularly with a relationship, family, or children. This type of stress can be acute, but is often related to chronic stress. You want your kids to be safe and grow up healthy, so this leads to being stressed about them almost constantly.
Acute forms of stress might be going through a divorce or death in the family.
Work and Financial Stress
Another very common area of stress in your life might be related to your job or your finances, or a little of both.
This can be from having a great job but not having enough time for anything but work, to where you bring your work home with you. Another way your job can stress you out is if you simply don’t enjoy it or you don’t get along well with co-workers.
You might have financial stress like struggling to pay your bills, not advancing enough in your career, or being faced with last-minute expenses and no clue how to take care of them.
Time stress is a little more specific to the time you have each day to get things done. This can also be either chronic or acute stress. You might find that you are so busy there is rarely enough time to get things done on a daily basis. You could also have time stress related to work or financial obligations.
How to Manage Stress
Before we go over how to manage stress let’s get into how stress affects our bodies. Stress is common and happens so much in our lives that often we may not realize we are suffering from stress.
Physical and Mental Signs of Stress:
- not sleeping well
- or sleeping too much
- more or less of an appetite than you are used to
- weight loss or weight gain
- adult acne
- intestinal problems
- irregular menstrual cycles
- sexual dysfunction
- feeling overwhelmed or loss of control
- low self-esteem
- racing thoughts
- agitation with others
- constant worry
- poor focus
- poor memory
- sudden disorganization
Behavioral changes also occur when we are stressed. You may find that you are suddenly using substances to cover up the negative emotions or overwhelming mental state, such as:
- smoking cigarettes
- drinking more heavily
- using drugs
- lashing out with anger
- biting your nails
The Physical Impact of Stress
If you are not aware of some of the common signs and symptoms of stress, you might not realize how often you experience it on a physical level instead of just mentally or emotionally. Here are some physical impacts of stress you should be aware of.
Gastrointestinal problems are very common among people that experience issues with stress. For example, you might find that food is hard to digest on days when you have a lot of work or financial stress. You could have constipation when you have high amounts of stress, or the opposite and experience diarrhea. This is actually very common. You may also have nausea to where you can’t eat or find that you have sharp stomach pains.
Your cardiovascular system consists of your blood vessels and heart, so this is another important part of your body to keep healthy. If you are keeping a stress journal, you might find that you have a rapid heartbeat from acute stress, such as when you have a fight with your significant other or a close friend gets into a vehicle accident.
This is a sign that the stress is causing a cardiovascular response. Cardiovascular problems can also be very dangerous for you, so it is important that you keep your stress under control. If your chest hurts every time you deal with a certain person in your life, it is time to cut communication with them as they are causing a little too much stress for your emotional wellbeing.
Your respiratory system can also be affected by high levels of stress, which can be dangerous if not treated. You may find that your throat feels like it is closing up when you are extremely stressed or when something bad happens, you can’t quite catch your breath.
Stress can also make issues like asthma a lot worse when you have acute or chronic stress. Since these can affect your overall wellbeing, it is important to consult a doctor. The doctor may find that your stress is causing the respiratory issues. This is actually good news because there are natural ways to relieve your stress.
Head and Cognitive Abilities
Don’t forget about head and nervous system changes, such as headaches or migraines, seeing spots in your vision, or having focus or memory problems. These are all related to your cognitive function and can be the result of problems with stress levels.
How to Manage Stress
Before you start looking at the healthy ways to relieve stress at home, you should be first aware of the ways you should avoid helping with stress.
Avoid These Unhealthy Methods
While these habits might seem like they are helping, you are actually heightening your stress overall. Make sure you don’t turn to the following unhealthy coping mechanisms to manage stress:
- Drinking alcohol
- Smoking cigarettes
- Binging on junk food
- Avoiding responsibilities
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Turning to drugs or pills
- Making erratic or dangerous choices
- Keeping busy to avoid your problems
Instead, read on below for tips on how to manage stress in a safe and effective way.
Move Your Body More
One excellent way to relieve your stress on a regular basis is by getting your body moving. This keeps your mind occupied, releases endorphins and serotonin in your brain, and can be a healthy way to distract yourself from your problems.
Even if you are not accustomed to working out a lot, there are ways to ease into a new workout routine. If you have a swimming pool, you can start swimming laps just a few at a time, then increase it every day. You can start taking your dog for a longer walk during the day or dancing in the living room with your kids.
While it might seem difficult, meditation can be easy if you just give it a chance. It does take some practice, but before too long you will discover just how helpful it is.
Meditation not only helps to relieve stress, but can help with anxiety, depression, and other problems you experience in your life. An easy way to start meditating is by using visualization. Sit in a quiet room with your body relaxed and your eyes closed. Just spend a few minutes trying to visualize something that calms you, such as a running creek or waves crashing in the ocean. All you think about is that scene and nothing else for those few minutes.
Take a Lavender Bath
Baths in general can be relaxing, but there are certain essential oils that can be very beneficial. Lavender is one of the best ones for relaxation and stress relief. All you need to do is add a few drops of lavender oil to your bath then enjoy the calm you feel. You can also try lavender bath salts or bubble bath for the same effect.
Food and Nutrition For Natural Stress Relief
One excellent way to relieve your stress the natural way is to use nutrition. The foods you choose to eat or not eat can make a large impact in how you feel on an emotional level. It is important that you feed your body nutritious foods instead of turning to stress eating junk food.
Most foods that will help with stress relief are also very good for you, such as nuts. Nuts contain a lot of protein and vitamin B, both of which can help you with your fight or flight stress response. It is also very easy to add more nuts to your daily diet. You can have a snack of nuts and cheese, add some slivered almonds or chopped cashews to the top of your salad, or simply grab a handful of peanuts in the evenings when you want a quick and tasty snack. These are also great since they are accepted by most diets, including low-calorie, low-carb, paleo, keto, and vegetarian or vegan diets.
All vegetables are good for you and many of them will help you with your stress levels. However, green leafy vegetables are among the best to turn to. These contain folate, which is a type of nutrient that can actually produce dopamine and keep you calm while also improving your mood and focus. Some good leafy greens to try include kale, spinach, and different types of lettuce. You can have a wrap for lunch by putting some chicken inside a large lettuce leaf, have more salads, or make spinach and egg scrambled for a healthy breakfast.
The best thing you can do is focus on having a lot of nutrients in your diet, such as increasing vitamins and minerals you have each day. Try to eat more lean protein, dairy, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and of course nuts and seeds.
Healthy Lifestyle Changes For Stress Management
Managing stress is sometimes not about simply finding ways to relax, but changing your daily lifestyle. By making healthy changes, you can reduce your overall stress to avoid, instead of just trying to find relief when it gets bad. Here are some different healthy lifestyle changes to consider making in order to manage your stress.
Try to Get Enough Sleep
Stress can cause problems with your sleep, but lack of sleep also leads to more stress. Since it works both ways, it is essential that you focus on getting 6-8 hours of sleep each night. My magic number of sleep is 7 hours!
You want to have your sleep as interrupted as possible in order to get into a deep REM sleep. This is important for proper cognitive function and can also help reduce your stress levels naturally. Here are some tips for getting better sleep:
- Buy a better mattress
- Develop a sleeping routine at night
- Don’t bring your cell phone into your bedroom
- Keep the TV off
- Sleep when your kids are asleep
Increase Your Physical Activity
Physical activity is often recommended for many different problems, such as anxiety and depression, and for good reason. It also helps with stress tremendously.
When you workout regularly, you distract your mind from worries, have better relaxation, and release endorphins to feel happier and more energized throughout the day. A good healthy lifestyle change to make is by getting your body moving more. You don’t need to go for a run every morning either; something as simple as walking your dog or using your backyard pool more often can be helpful.
Getting regular exercise is important for your physical health, but it can help you emotionally as well. Moving your body and getting your blood pumping can do wonders for your stress, whether it is from relationships, work, finances, or other forms of stress.One way that exercise can help with stress is by clearing your mind during those minutes when you are working out. Think about the last time you were swimming laps, going for a jog, or running on the treadmill.
You will probably more concerned with your speed, agility, or even how sore your body was becoming, so you were less focused on whatever was stressing you out. Exercise can clear your mind and start relieving stress one workout at a time. Before too long, you look forward to your next workout when you are thinking about whatever is causing you stress.
Regular fitness will also help you release endorphins, which improves your mood and benefits you greatly when you are struggling with stress. Endorphins are happy chemicals in your brain that are always there, but need to be released. When your blood is pumping through exercise, you start releasing those endorphins, which is when you start to feel happier. It puts you in a great mood, you feel more energized and ready to take on the day, and of course your stress doesnít bother you quite as much.
Stress is sometimes overwhelming due to the many issues in your life. Sometimes you just need to distract your mind a little bit, which can be done by exercising. Try to stick to a regular fitness routine that keeps you busy 30-60 minutes a day, several days a week. By doing this, you are distracted and not thinking about the financial, work, personal, or relationship stress in your life.
Acute stress occurs from individual situations instead of simply being stressed all day, every day. You can have acute stress if your boyfriend breaks up with you, during a fight with your best friend, or when something at work becomes too much to handle. Acute stress is easy to relieve simply by running after work or hitting the gym for an hour. It is a great thing to turn to when you want to relieve that stress in a healthy and productive way. It also helps to keep you from turning to alcohol or drugs to take the stressful feelings away.
Become a More Organized Person
You may get stressed out at work because your files are in a disarray and your desk is filled with paperwork. Go to the office supply store to get some boxes and bins that will help you organize your office. Do the same thing at home by organizing your kitchen, living room, home office, bedroom, and other spaces that seem a little bit chaotic.
Organizing your life is also important if you want to make healthy lifestyle changes! The more organized you are in your daily home and work life, the less stress you will experience overall.
The three basic organization tips I’m following are:
- working to get rid of clutter
- using a planner
- setting a schedule and sticking to it
How to Manage Stress and Feel Better
My hope is this post gave your a better understanding of the different types of stress that can come along and a few ideas on how to manage stress and feel better.
Let me know in the comments how you manage stress and sign up for the self-care ebook for more ideas on how to beat stress!
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