We all experience stress at times in our lives, and it isn’t always bad. Under certain kinds of pressure, you can be motivated to do your best and perform better. Stress can come from your environment, your body and your thoughts. No one is immune to it, and everyone handles it differently. It can be positive, keeping us alert and helping us avoid danger… and it can be negative when facing continuous challenges without relief or relaxation to recover from it.
When you’re constantly running in emergency mode, your mind and body can pay the price. Even the commonplace stresses of modern life may be affecting your health without you even realizing it. Stress that is constant without any relief can lead to a negative stress reaction called distress. Distress can lead to physical symptoms including pain of any kind including headaches, neck and back pain, heart disease, digestive problems, sleep problems, depression, obesity, autoimmune diseases, skin conditions such as eczema, and others.
While unchecked stress is undeniably damaging, there are many ways to reduce its impact and mitigate the symptoms. Recognizing common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. You may think that illness is to blame for that nagging headache or persistent backache, but it could very well be your body’s reaction to stress that is causing your pain. While you can’t completely eliminate stress from your life, you can control how much it affects you. To get your stress under control, first find out what is causing the stress in your life. Then look for ways to reduce the amount of stress you’re experiencing, and implement some healthy ways to relieve stress or reduce its harmful effects. It’s all about taking charge of the way you respond to stress — taking charge of your emotions and thoughts, your schedule, and your environment.
Strategies to prevent and manage stress include learning how to relax, developing a positive attitude, regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, enjoying time with friends and social situations, massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments to release muscle tension and reduce irritation, mental health professional support, relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation and deep breathing, and getting a night of good, restorative sleep.
Reprinted with permission from Think Teachers Magazine.