Feelings of stress can arise when we are in a position that puts pressure on us and we find it difficult to cope with these situations. Leading causes of stress include workplace stress, personal issues like divorce, bereavement, or becoming a caregiver for a relative, unemployment, debt, poverty, e.t.c. Stress, if not properly managed, can cause a lot of health issues, like hypertension, stroke, diabetes, depression, anxiety, autoimmune diseases, aging skin, hair loss, and some types of cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of stress
People react differently to stress. One person may lose appetite and another overeat in response to some type of stress. Some common signs and symptoms are:
- Frequent headaches
- Insomnia, nightmares
- Neck pain, back pain, muscle spasms
- Grinding teeth
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Frequent crying spells
- Increased frustration and irritability
- Chest pain and palpitations
- Constant tiredness, weakness, and fatigue
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Deep Breathing: Deep breathing is a powerful and simple way to combat the stress response. Taking deep breaths from the abdomen instead of shallow breaths causes you to inhale more oxygen, making you less anxious. This brings you into a state of relaxation and can help you control your emotions in times of stress and anxiety.
- Exercise: Research suggests that even 5 minutes of exercise can help reduce anxiety. Exercise makes our body release endorphins which help keep levels of the stress hormone cortisol down.
- Meditation: This is a very flexible therapy for stress. It restores the body to a state of calm and has been shown to help the body repair some damage from physical stress. The idea is to sit for as long as you need, focusing on your breathing or a sound depending on the style of meditation and clearing your mind.
- Visualization: This is often used with other relaxation techniques to help reduce symptoms of stress. With this technique, you create a detailed mental image of yourself in a peaceful and serene environment. This helps you to detach yourself from the moment and relax.
- Spend Time With Friends and Family: Spending quality time with supportive friends and family can help you get through stressful periods. Being part of a social network you can share your feelings with gives you a sense of belonging, which can help you deal with stress.