Stress is an unavoidable part of life because it is a natural reaction to life experiences. Actually, in short-term situations stress can be beneficial to our health by helping us cope with potentially threatening situations. According to the American Institute of Stress, “your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and ready your muscles to respond.” What happens when we experience higher stress levels for longer durations? In short, our overall health is affected. The American Institute of Stress stated that chronic stress can affect irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, insomnia, and our overall well-being.
So how do you handle stress? According to the APA’s Stress in America study, almost 70% of Americans experience physical and mental symptoms of stress, but only 37% think they can manage stress well. Here are three ways to start combating stress today:
1. Carve out you time: One of the best ways to reduce stress is to take time to decompress and focus on yourself. When we take this time, it can help us feel re-energized and help us focus on the actual problem, rather than feeling stressed and overwhelmed about “everything.” This can be done by taking just 20 minutes a day and focusing just on yourself. I challenge you to find something and start today!
2. Learn to delegate tasks: Another great way to reduce stress is to take an assessment of all of the things that we feel are causing us stress and create a task list. Once we have an idea, we can start assessing what is most important on the list and areas where we can delegate. For example, new moms experience LOTS of stress! I know when I had my children I felt the need to take care of them and all of the household duties. However, once that became so overwhelming, I enlisted the help of family to watch the baby and help with household chores while I slept. The most important job I had was to feed my baby and be a healthy and happy momma. The rest I learned (the hard way) could be delegated.
3. Get outside: Research suggests that spending just five minutes outside can reduce stress levels. When we increase our Vitamin D levels, which occurs through sun exposure, we improve our muscle function, immune system, and even our mood. Another added benefit is that if we decide to walk or try any exercise while outside, we can decrease our anxiety and depression symptoms that are often associated with prolonged stress.
For an overall benefit to your health, start implementing strategies today to reduce your stress levels. Your physical and mental health will thank you!