We have all experienced some level of stress in our lives, probably from as early as our school lives. But did you know it can take its toll on our physical health too? Unresolved trauma and stress has been scientifically proven to manifest in our bodies as dis-ease and illness. After all... everything is energy, and it's no surprise that holding on to negativity can have detrimental effects.
The most obvious signs of stress can include a fast beating heart, sweaty palms, sometimes breathlessness... but what happens to our bodies when we are in this state and how can we overcome this?
Here are several ways that stress can effect our physical being:
Anxiety or depression
Forgetfulness and brain fog
Increased risk of Stroke
Muscle pain and fatigue
Flare ups of Eczema, Psoriasis, Acne or Rosacea
Lower immune system so more prone to catching colds or flu
Increased chance of developing Diabetes
Weight gain or loss
Higher blood pressure increasing the risk of heart attacks
Diarrhoea or Constipation
Whilst we can try to make our lives as stress-free as possible, even the 'happiest' of people living their best life cannot eradicate stress completely. Life will always throw us curveballs with unexpected events, let downs and mishaps, but it's how we deal with these issues that's important.
Here is our top tips on managing your stress levels:
1. Schedule some time out for yourself. You wont believe how underrated this is. Most of us plod through life without ever truly giving a thought to ourselves and our wellbeing. Have a think about what it is you'd like to do if you had some spare time just for you, and if you're not sure, then try some new things! Whether it's practising yoga, listening to music, meditating, getting a massage, it's important to have some space to clear your head.
2. Limit alcohol and caffeine. Yes, I'm sorry, but unfortunately these delights actually aggravate anxiety and can trigger panic attacks. If you're not in a healthy headspace these things will really be detrimental to both your physical and mental wellbeing. Drinking plenty of water will help you so much more!
3. Exercise daily. Preferably outside if you can and if the weather permits. Exercise is proven to release endorphins and serotonin - the feel good chemicals in our brain. Not only will it benefit your physical health, it will help boost your mood, relieve anxiety, give you more energy and improve your sleep.
4. Let go of control. Accepting that we cannot ever truly control everything, is honestly half the battle. We put so much pressure and expectations on ourselves these days, that when we really sit and think about things, is this even important? And why?
5. Talk to someone. Call a friend, see a therapist, or even chat to yourself. Get those inner thoughts out of your head before they escalate and try and see things with a clearer perspective. Things are often not as bad as they seem, but sometimes our minds can get a little carried away with themselves. If you're not sure who to turn to, there are lots of charities out there who can offer anonymous, free advice.
6. Eat well balanced meals. When we're stressed, it can be very tempting to reach for the easy option. Eating nutritious food fuels our bodies and our minds helping us to feel more energised, when in reality the 'junk' food will only make us feel good short term.
7. Conscious breathing. Ok so we're all breathing, all the time, but when was the last time you actually concentrated on your breathing? Most of the time are breaths are short and tight, which helps to keep us in a stressed out state. When we consciously breathe, by taking deep long breaths, it actually lowers our heart rate and instantly reduces our stress levels. You can do this whenever & wherever you need to too!
8. Get enough sleep. This can seem so obvious, yet we so easily fall into bad habits when it comes to sleep. Put your phone down in the evenings, read a book, take a bath and give yourself the early night you deserve.
9. Recognise your triggers. Is there a specific scenario or contributing factor that is causing your stress? Do you hate your job? Is there a toxic relationship in your life? Journal on these issues to find out more about why it's causing you so much stress and see if you can find a resolution.
10. Positive mental attitude! It really does work... whether it's using affirmations, reading a self-help book... our words create our reality, and if we find ourselves constantly speaking negatively, then this will only bring more of the bad stuff in to your life. Create a Pinterest board of things that make you happy, work on something creative, unfollow anyone toxic on social media and make your life as positive as you can.