A little bit of stress is good for us, in that it provides energy and keeps us motivated. However, it's important to
keep stress in check. When left to its own devices, stress can lead to or worsen a number of serious health problems, from heart disease to
depression and anxiety.
In medical terms, stress is the physiological response to a noted threat. Fear and anxiety are normal and essential feelings in life. But for some people, these responses take on a life of their own and start to disrupt everyday situations. Stress has expanded into a chronic condition with lasting health effects and the ability to weaken the immune system.
There are a number of things backed up by research that you can do, right now, to lower your stress levels. Here are a few simple tips on how to reduce stress and warning signs that it may be time to seek professional help:
Take deep breaths. It’s not a cliché, it actually does slow your heart rate and increases oxygen intake.
Listen to music. This releases dopamine which results in a good relaxed feeling.
Workout. Physical activity and high water intake will keep you feeling renewed and stress free.
Crack open a book. Just six minutes of reading is enough to help you de-stress. Studies suggest that reading was linked with a slower heart rate and muscle relaxation.
Grab your phone. There are many smartphone apps available to reduce stress. Popular ones include: “Deep Relaxation” and “StressFree” (both available in iTunes).
Know when it’s time to see a professional. If your stress is becoming or has become chronic, you may pose a danger to yourself or others without even realizing it. Trained professionals in stress management will be able to help pinpoint the cause of your stress as well as provide insight into how you should deal with it. It’s time to seek professional help if you experience the following:
o Loss of concentration very quickly
o Memory loss
o Constant worrying
o Sinking into depression and feeling alone or even suicidal
Revised: April 1, 2016