TL;DR: Stress is a silent killer. Because we face stress every day, we have to learn practical ways to cope with it. Stress can be manageable with the right techniques but if you find it to be more challenging, it may be time to ask for professional help.
Stress has become the silent killer of our generation. A 2016 study at Standford shows that chronic physical and mental stress can lead to sudden cardiac death. And, around 120,000 deaths per year are due to work-related stress.
It has become part of our day-to-day life in this time and age where everything moves swiftly. From the things that we do in our work to our personal lives, we are faced with difficulties. And one of the best possible adversities we can overcome is how we healthily handle stress.
Stress affects not just our body but also our mood and our behavior. Physically, common effects of stress are headaches, muscle pain, and fatigue. While stress contributes to anxiety, depression, lack of focus and motivation, irritability, and anger.
Behaviourally, stress attributes to substance abuse, overeating or undereating, and alcohol misuse that can lead to a downward spiral.
Being able to cope with stress in our daily lives is a skill that we need to master. It is for the betterment of ourselves and also for the people that surround us.
Here are a few healthy ways of coping with stress.
This may sound like a bit of comedic advice but when we are overwhelmed we tend to freeze. There are even moments when we forget to breathe.
Practicing deep breathing can help you calm yourself and help relax the body during stressful situations.
When you take in oxygen steadily, your heart rate slows, and your mind starts to slow down. Inhaling through your nose for five seconds, letting it stay for two seconds, and exhaling through your mouth for five seconds activates your parasympathetic nervous system – a network of nerves that relaxes your body after periods of stress or danger.
Put Your Phone Down
When we feel overwhelmed or anxious, how many times do we dive into our phones to distract ourselves? Instead, to clear our minds, the exact opposite happens. We get more anxious because we see things on social media.
Having our phones as a distraction is a good thing, but not when our thoughts are all over the place. Social media is a stressful place, especially when you are not on the right train of thought.
It would be better if put your phone down and have time to listen and reflect on your thoughts. Having the time to clear and relax your mind can help you manage stress
Doing activities that don’t require you to touch your phone is a good break for your mental health and is a better way of coping with a stressful situation. For instance, if you take a walk in the park as a breather you can better enjoy the scenery if you are not scrolling down on your phone.
Pause (Take a Break)
Everything moves fast nowadays, in life, and at work. Because of that, it seems like there are things that will always stress us out. Coping with stress is hard when we constantly think about other problems. It overwhelms us.
Taking a break is not only good for your physical health but also your mind. This way, you can process your thoughts and prepare your mind for what’s to come by pausing or taking a break.
Do mindless activities that slow you down. For example, enjoying a cup of coffee while listening to your favorite song. This will be a much-needed pause for your brain.
Exercise is one of the best stress relievers. When we break a sweat, our bodies release endorphins – our body’s natural happy hormones. Endorphins help reduce stress and boost our mood.
Being able to move your body will help you manage stress better; it provides a distraction for your mind, helps strengthen your immune system, and makes you fit. Even on our worst days, being able to perform a 30-minute walk to help us break a sweat will improve our mood. Having a healthy body equates to having a healthy mind.
Talk to Somebody (a Friend or Someone that is Close to You)
When we are stressed, we can’t focus, we are anxious, constantly thinking about problems, and getting lost in our negative thoughts.
In times like this, it is better to have someone to talk to. A long-time friend or someone who knows you well and who you are comfortable talking to without filters.
Humans are social beings, and we are always comfortable when we feel supported and secure. This is what having someone to talk to brings to the table. Being able to express yourself and open your thoughts helps clear your mind and reduces stress.
Stress is already part of our everyday life. We just need to cope with it better and in a healthier way. Each one of us has our own way of coping with stress but If things don’t work well, it is always better to seek professional help.
Krysti (Lan Chi) Vo, MD, is a psychiatrist, speaker, and advisor that specializes in helping people in becoming a better version of themselves. If you would like more information about a session, visit “My Clinic“.
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