It’s probably not surprising to hear that stress can affect your health, but did you know that the way you manage that stress can be just as damaging? If your New Years resolution involved improving your health in any way, it needs to include effective stress management.
Of course, the first step to managing stress is recognizing its signs. Here are some ways the American Heart Association says you can tell when you’re being affected by stress:
Aches and pains
- Neck ache
- Stomach ache
- Tight muscles
- Clenched jaw
Energy level and sleep
- Feeling tired without a good reason
- Trouble sleeping
- Out of control
Other emotional signs
- Easily irritated
If you exhibit any of these physical signs, it may mean that you’re experiencing too much stress. When you feel that much stress, it is tempting to try and reduce it by any means necessary. However, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to do this.
Unhealthy ways to deal with stress include:
- Eating to calm down
- Speaking and eating very fast
- Drinking alcohol or smoking
- Working too much
- Delaying the things you need to do
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Trying to do too many things at once
If you resort to any of those methods to manage your stress, you should instead consider adopting some of these healthy habits:
- Talk it out with family and friends. A daily dose of friendship can be great medicine.
- Engage in daily physical activity. Regular physical activity can relieve mental and physical tension.
- Embrace the things you are able to change. There are some things in life you may not be able to do or enjoy – forget them. Instead, try learning a new skill or working towards a new goal.
- Laugh! Laughter makes us feel good, so do it every chance you get.
- Give up the bad habits. Too much alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine can increase your blood pressure.
- Slow! Down! You should aim to pace yourself, not race yourself.
- Aim for six to eight hours of sleep. Falling within this window will help you reduce stress and depression.
For more tips on how you can adopt healthy habits, visit somc.org.