In some ways, we need stress. It’s our body’s fight or flight response. When we encounter threats, stress kicks our body into high gear with more adrenaline, oxygen, and glucose sent to cells. This puts our body in top shape to face the danger.
Chronic stress is an issue. All those hormones and chemicals continue to circulate and wear down your body. This leads to issues including muscle tension, headaches, fatigue, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety. You’re also more inclined to have poorer eating habits, exercise less, and procrastinate more.
Daily habits can ease the stress and make the pressure manageable long-term.
Reclaim your day with exercise. Internal and external stressors cause the same physical reaction, so your body responds to a rattlesnake the same way it does to a deadline. You can run from a rattlesnake, but can’t run from a deadline. But stress builds your body up for fight or flight. When you can’t do either, what can you do? One way to relieve the stress of the deadline is to “fight” it. Physical exercise lets your body physically respond as it’s geared up to do, ease the tension caused by stress, and release chemicals into your bloodstream to heal damaged cells.
Reclaim your day with the things you love. Take a few minutes to engage in an activity you enjoy—a quick walk, a short dance, light reading, brewing a hot mug of yaupon. This can take your mind off the source of your stress and allow time for your subconscious to address the problem. You’ll return to the problem with a fresh perspective and maybe even a new idea. This relax time can also improve your mood and your “positive affect” (feelings of happiness and joy), which is correlated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
Reclaim your day with your community. Seek out your close friends, even for a few minutes. Studies show that being with friends is beneficial for our health. Being around friends can reduce how much cortisol is produced when we get stressed, so we’re less stressed from the start. Giving and receiving hugs can also reduce stress hormones like cortisol and increase stress combatting hormones like oxytocin in our bodies. Friends can help problem solving. They bring a different perspective to situations and even just a 10 minute conversation with a friend has been shown to improve executive function (your decision making ability).
We all have stress. The great news is we have choices in how we manage that stress. Today, curate a moment to take care of your health. Give yourself the gift of time and reclaim your day from stress.