Stress is a normal (and sometimes beneficial) physical response to adverse situations in life. This feeling of unease or anxiety can prompt you to take action when you need to accomplish important tasks, especially when it comes to your own safety. However, when stress becomes chronic or is an automatic response in relatively normal situations, it can be overwhelming and lead to numerous mental and physical problems. Over time it can have a serious negative impact on your health.
Quick and Easy Ways To Control Stress
It’s important that you learn to take steps to prevent unnecessary stress in your life. These simple lifestyle choices can make a big difference.
Manage Your Diet
When you experience mental or physical stress, cortisol levels rise within the body. Certain foods may help lower these levels, including the omega-3 fatty acids in salmon and other fatty fish. Some people find that eating crunchy foods can offer stress relief, and enjoy munching on crisp fruits or vegetables, popcorn, or whole-grain crackers.
In general, avoid foods that tend to make anxiety symptoms worse; including:
- Highly processed “junk” food
- Refined sugars
- Simple carbohydrates
- Fatty or deep-fried foods
Instead, fuel your body with a wide variety of nutrients and consume foods that provide sustained energy, such as complex carbohydrates, lean protein, fresh fruits and veggies, and healthy fats. There are many vitamin and herbal supplements for stress as well. When combined with a good diet, these can give your body a better chance at keeping levels under control.
Stress is an instinctive response to danger that is the result of thousands of years of learned response within the human race. A long time ago, stress helped keep the body going when it needed to travel long distances or go for days while hunting for food. These days, most people experience mental stimuli rather than physical ones, but the response is still the same.
The stress response helps the body endure rigorous physical activity, so it makes sense that this also helps restore those levels to normal. In fact, an overall decline in activity could be one of the leading causes of chronic stress today. Make it a priority to move your body more every day, especially if you work at a more sedentary job. Exercise often and get in at least 150 minutes of intense exercise to help strengthen your heart, lungs, and muscles while keeping cortisol levels normal.
Diet and exercise are the foundations of a healthy life, but they aren’t the only components. It’s also important that you take steps to prioritize your mental health by engaging in activities that help you feel calm, focused, relaxed, and happy. Social interaction and engagement are essential for good mental health. Hobbies and simple rituals can also be beneficial, including daily skincare routines, playing an instrument, or reading your favorite kind of book.
Identifying the Underlying Cause of Stress
If you’re feeling overwhelmed lately, it’s important to find out why. Many times, the situations that cause stress are beyond your immediate control, such as:
- Disease or death of a loved one
- Job change or loss
- Moving to a new location
- Acting as a caregiver
- Financial problems
- Chronic pain or illness
However, there are often ways you can take steps to minimize the stress in your life by avoiding or eliminating practices that cause it. You may need to distance yourself from certain people or say no to certain commitments you typically keep. It’s essential that you prioritize your mental health so that you take good care of yourself first.
For many people, it’s helpful to talk to a mental health expert about chronic stress. These professionals can help you successfully identify the problems while equipping you with tools and strategies to effectively manage them. Otherwise, you could deal with some serious long-term side effects, from trouble sleeping and digestive issues to high blood pressure and memory problems. In the end, it’s important that you find positive ways to prevent and reduce the stress in your life.