Whether you’re British royalty or a neighborhood barber, you probably know more about stress than you’d like. But this is one case where knowing is at least part of the battle. The more you learn about stress, the better equipped you’ll be to handle anxious feelings.
Here are five things everyone should know about stress:
- Stress can be a good thing
Stress certainly causes its fair share of problems, but it can also be part of the solution. Anxiety will cause your heart to beat faster and motivate you to perform. You may not appreciate anxiety in the moment, but those feelings often help you get the job done.
The stress reaction is part of our instinctual behavior for survival reasons. Learn to appreciate stress when it’s helpful and let it go when it’s not.
- Chronic stress is always bad
Stress triggers what many experts call the “fight or flight” reaction. In other words, our bodies are prepared to stand and fight or run like the wind. These are both temporary solutions. We were never meant to fight or run for long periods of time. And so our bodies aren’t meant to handle symptoms of stress for an extended time.
The American Institute of Stress lists 50 signs and symptoms of stress. The following are the top 10:
- Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain
- Gritting, grinding teeth
- Stuttering or stammering
- Tremors, trembling of lips, hands
- Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms
- Lightheadedness, faintness, dizziness
- Ringing, buzzing, or “popping sounds
- Frequent blushing, sweating
- Cold or sweaty hands or feet
- Dry mouth, problems swallowing
These symptoms are widespread throughout the body because stress impacts many bodily systems, including the respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal and reproductive systems.
- Stress isn’t always obvious
Routine stress can be the most difficult to pinpoint, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Sources of routine stress often include problems at home or at work. These things can begin gradually and build up over time. In contrast to acute stress, routine stress doesn’t have a clear beginning or end, so the body never gets the signal to shut down the stress response.
- Everyone can take steps to reduce stress
If you’re alive, you have some level of stress and would benefit from adopting healthy outlets for stress relief. However, some people stand to benefit more from stress management techniques. For example, stress can worsen symptoms of a mental illness, substance abuse disorder or chronic illness. This is why many rehab programs focus on reducing stress that can lead to relapse.
- You can manage stress naturally
In some cases, medication may be necessary. That decision is up to the patient and his or her healthcare practitioner. But oftentimes, people find relief in natural stress-reducing activities. The following are recommendations from the National Institute of Mental Health:
- Get regular exercise – A Proceedings of the National Academy of Science study found that people who walked in nature for 90 minutes showed decreased activity in the brain region associated with stress and depression.
- Explore stress coping programs – Such programs typically include yoga, tai chi and/or meditation. If you can’t find a program that specializes in stress, any yoga, tai chi or meditation program would be helpful.
- Connect with emotional supports – Stay connected with people who make you feel relaxed and avoid those who stress you out.
We’ll never be able to rid our lives of stress completely, but with the right coping mechanisms, we may be able to use stress to our advantage.
If you feel overwhelmed by stress or are having thoughts of self-harm, don’t hesitate to talk to a professional counselor.
Can a massager help relieve stress? Yes. See how the Myobuddy Massager Pro can help you relax and enhance your mood.
Rachel M O’Conner is a freelance content writer. She has written for a variety of different industries including business, healthcare, technology, travel, education, fashion and lifestyle. In her free time, Rachel enjoys practicing yoga and running along the beach in San Diego, California.