We all feel stressed from time to time, but how much do you know about stress and its long term effects? Here are five things you need to know.
A Certain Level of Stress is Unavoidable
Although we may work hard to establish a consistent self-care routine and try and create a work/life balance, ultimately, a certain level of stress is just unavoidable. There will always be traffic, flight delays, unexpected bills, and elements of life that are beyond our control. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to feel anxious or unduly worried about the future.
Although it can be hard to go through times of stress, there is a positive side. Coming through a dark time can allow you to appreciate the good times even more. It can also help to establish high resilience levels and increase your ability to be self-reliant and prepare better for the future. As some stress is unavoidable, it is a good idea not to worry about what you cannot control and instead enjoy and appreciate the areas in your life that you can change instead.
Some Stress Can be Good for You
Evolutionary speaking, some stress has made us evolve to be more productive and efficient. Due to the fight or flight response that stress triggers in our brain, it can help to improve cognitive function during certain times of intensive external stressors, for example, when taking an exam or before an important job interview. This temporary boost in function can help peak levels of concentration and allow your attention span to increase as well as your levels of productivity.
But Being Stressed All the Time Can Be Bad For Your Health
However, being stressed all the time is a no-no. Continual high levels of stress, both physical and emotional, can lead to long term health concerns like anxiety, depression, and even heart disease. Long term stress can result in raised blood pressure, and too much adrenaline in your body regularly can have devastating effects over time, including an irregular heartbeat, headaches, and shortness of breath.
Prolonged exposure to stress can be deadly for your body and should not be underestimated. The heart problems associated with long term stress can change how your arteries function irreversibly, so it is essential to keep your stress levels under control.As well as being terrible for your body, high levels of stress long term can also have a profound effect on your mental wellbeing too. Overstressed people are much more likely to struggle when it comes to emotional control, which can leave you lashing out or feeling overwhelming levels of fear and anxiety. This can not only impact you but also those around you, especially your family and partner. Staying calm during periods of stress and ensuring a regular mindfulness routine is essential in redressing this emotional balance.
Signs You Are Overstressed
If you are under high levels of stress regularly, it can become difficult to spot the signs. Stress over time can cause weight gain, poor skin, and difficulty in being able to fall asleep. It can also increase your likelihood of suffering from frequent headaches, reduced energy levels, and even cause your libido to nose-dive. When you are overstressed, your body goes into shut down mode, and, probably, you are only functioning at a base level capacity. Many of us become so used to feeling stressed due to the demands of modern life. It is crucial to stay aware of your mental and physical health to combat the signs of stress and their effects as early as possible.
Managing Your Stress
Luckily, there are several different ways to manage your stress levels, so although some stress may be unavoidable, the long term damaging effects can certainly be prevented if taken seriously.
One of the best ways to deal with stress is to keep calm. If you are feeling stressed about an upcoming situation, for example, a work presentation or speech at a family event, break the task up into more manageable chunks and do everything you can to feel as prepared as possible. Being prepared also helps you deal with any unexpected changes and allows for greater feelings of calm. It is easy to fall into patterns of negative self-talk, but if you are under stress, try and be even more kind to yourself than usual. Remember to pat yourself on the back and focus on the positives.
Another great stress buster is regular exercise. Getting your body moving can shake the stress away, and listening to some of your favorite music while you do it is another way to lessen stress levels and boost the feel-good factor. Having a consistent self-care routine is also great when you are feeling under pressure. Try adding essential oils, such as lavender or peppermint, to your bath, and take the opportunity to decompress and relax. Meditating, journaling, and sticking to a healthy diet can also really improve your mood during times of stress. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. We all experience stress, so why not talk it out with a friend and work through the problem together.