At some point in life, everyone experiences stress - the condition caused by a reaction to physical, chemical, emotional or environmental factors. However, they feel it in different levels and react in different ways.
Constant or chronic stress can cause the body to remain in high gear for extended periods of time, which causes a person's breathing and heart rate to speed up and blood pressure to rise.
Too much stress can cause problems, though. Ongoing stress about money, illness or work problems can add up, and become detrimental to your physical and mental health. Built-up stress can cause the following symptoms:
Try these tips to work through stress
The American Heart Association recommends the following tips to help reduce stress.
- Positive self-talk. Positive self-talk ("I can do this," or "Everything will be okay") can help you calm down and control stress. With practice, you can learn to shift negative thoughts to positive ones.
- Employ some emergency stress stoppers. Emergency stress stoppers are actions to help you defuse stress in the moment. You may need different stress stoppers for different situations and sometimes it helps to combine them. Try counting to 10 before you speak or react. Take some slow, deep breaths. Go for a walk. Try a quick meditation.
- Try some stress-busting activities. Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to relieve stress and find your happy place. Even when you're feeling down, you may find joy in simple things like going for a walk, catching up with a friend or reading a good book. When stress makes you feel bad, do something that makes you feel good, even if it's only for 10 or 15 minutes.
- Talk with family and friends. A daily dose of friendship is great medicine. Call or write friends and family to share your feelings, hopes and joys and ask them to share theirs.
- Engage in daily physical activity. Regular physical activity can relieve mental and physical tension. Physically active adults have a lower risk of depression and loss of mental functioning. Physical activity can be a great source of joy, too. Try walking, swimming, biking or dancing every day.
- Embrace the things you are able to change. While we may not be able to do some of the things we once enjoyed, we are never too old to learn a new skill, work toward a goal, or love and help others.
- Remember to laugh. Laughter makes us feel good. Don't be afraid to laugh out loud at a joke or a funny movie, even when you're alone.
- Give up the bad habits. Too much alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine can increase blood pressure. If you smoke, decide to quit now. If you do drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
- Slow down. Try to pace instead of race. Plan ahead and allow enough time to get the most important things done without having to rush.
- Get enough sleep. Try to get six to eight hours of sleep each night. If you can't sleep, take steps to help reduce stress and depression. Physical activity may improve the quality of your sleep and life in general.
- Get organized. Use "to do" lists to help you focus on your most important tasks. Approach big tasks one step at a time. For example, start by organizing just one part of your life - your car, desk, kitchen, closet, cupboard or drawer.
- Practice giving back. Volunteer your time or spend time helping out a friend. Helping others helps you.
- Try not to worry. The world won't end if your grass isn't mowed or your kitchen isn't cleaned. You may need to do these things, but right now might not be the right time.
Sourced from the American Heart Association.