“Stress is the trash of modern life – we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life”–Danzae Pace
Each day you experience some level of stress. Worrying can be a daily habit. Your mind is at work constantly, spinning about problems that have happened and what is yet to come. In fact, anxiety never seems like it lets up. Neck and back tension, the knot that stays in your stomach and jittery agitation just lives under the surface of your skin. You begin to think that worrying is a normal everyday part of life. The truth is that the effects of chronic stress have begun.
When you worry, chemicals are released in your body that send you into a flight or fight alert. It’s like turning on a switch to tell your body that something is wrong or that you are in danger. What happens if the switch to stress stays on? Once you think that anxiety and worry are part of your life, you forget that relaxation, or “rest and digest” mode is even and option.
When you worry, you borrow against your future health and well being.
A recent study from Penn State University has linked stress to future health risks. The study reports it’s not the stressors, or things that make you worry that cause health issues. It’s your response to stress that determines if you will suffer future health effects.
According to David Almeda, professor of human development and family studies, how you react to what happens today can foretell chronic health issues and ten year from now, aside from your current health and stress yet to come.
“Stress is not what happens to us. It’s our response to what happens. And the response is something we can choose” ~Maureen Killoran
When you are in a heightened state of stress, it’s truly hard to see all options in how to handle the problem. It’s far more natural in an anxious state to become victim to a flight or fight response. You forget that you have a choice in how you respond to stress.
The bottom line is learning how to manage stress more effectively.
It can seem totally overwhelming to make one more change in your life. You carefully have all the pieces in place for your life to work. One piece out of place and you will lose control…or at least that’s what you might believe.
There are a few steps to get started in changing how you respond to stress.
1. Pick three times a day that you take time to relax. Start with 15 minutes at a time. Be very conscious that the time is for you to recharge. Pick something that will clear you mind, such as a short walk, writing in a journal, deep breathing, or reading. Short relaxation techniques will work, too. This will help you remember what it is like to stop the stress response in your body.
2. Breathe. The stress response causes us to breathe quick and shallow. Try deep belly breathing to reduce tension and get more oxygen in your body. Place your hand on your belly and feel it expand with the rise and fall of each breath. Breath in relief and exhale stress.
3. List five things you are grateful for when caught up in the stress response. When you are stressed, you are living in the past and/or the future. Gratitude lists put us back into the present moment. The beauty is that the present moment is a worry-free space.
How you handle stress with catch up to you and your health. Begin to make choices today the will affect your future health.