5 Tried and True Methods for Relieving Chronic Stress
One-third of Americans live with extreme stress, and nearly half of Americans (48 percent) believe that their stress has increased over the past five years, according to 2007 statistics. In a 2020 survey, about seven in every ten people (67 percent), said they experienced increased stress during the pandemic. Today, stress remains a primary contributor to the mental health crisis.
It seems like stress has become a part of life in today’s world. However, if it consistently lasts for weeks or months, it can be considered a chronic illness. Chronic stress can be caused by internal factors such as emotional stress or external factors such as a stressful environment or events. It can often affect a person’s emotional, mental, and physical well-being and lead to adverse health conditions such as high blood pressure and body pains.
Some of the common signs of chronic stress are:
- Body aches and pains.
- Sleeplessness or insomnia.
- Fatigue or low energy levels.
- Changes in appetite and social behavior.
- Emotional withdrawal or changes in emotional response.
- Lack of ability to focus.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor, address the problem, and try to treat it immediately. In addition, here are some proven ways you can improve chronic stress symptoms on your own.
1. Address the Stress
To start addressing chronic stress, the first thing one should do is address the root cause of it. Evaluate your lifestyle as well as your environment at home and work. See if some events or tasks are becoming stressors or triggering your stress.
Maybe it’s a work project causing too much frustration, or personal life circumstances are getting to you. Whatever it may be, either address it to alleviate stress or learn not to react to it in a stressful way. You can also consider getting help from a mental health professional to help you face and identify the causes of your stress head-on. A professional can properly guide you in this process, especially if you have repressed trauma or emotions causing you stress without knowing it.
2. Get Your Sleep
Sleep is crucial to one’s health as it resets the mind and body after a day of building up toxins in the brain and tension in the body. A complete sleep cycle is necessary to allow the body to regenerate and rejuvenate. Relative to this, stress and sleep are directly linked. Chronic stress can disrupt sleeping patterns, while, conversely, sleep can alleviate stress.
If you are starting to experience chronic stress, try to get enough sleep daily and create a sleeping pattern for your body. You should get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Be sure your sleep environment is comfortable and fits your sleep needs.
It goes a long way to use the right bedding, especially if you are experiencing body pains due to chronic stress. Consider reading mattress reviews to find out which suits your needs best and which can help alleviate or reduce physical pain or even heat if you get hot when you experience stress or sleep.
3. Stay Healthy
A chemical imbalance in the brain can cause stress and other negative emotions. Hence, being active and moving is important to alleviate stress. Exercising allows the brain to release a number of neurotransmitters, including endorphins or ‘feel good’ hormones, endocannabinoids, and dopamine, which can reduce stress.
Additionally, eating healthy and keeping a balanced diet can help keep the stress at bay. It helps the body regulate chemicals released in the brain better, thus promoting a healthier mental state. Avoiding too much alcohol and caffeine is also important as this sort of food has chemicals that can disrupt the brain’s natural sleep regulation process.
For food or drinks that can alleviate stress, consider those that reduce cortisol, like chocolates or tea.
4. Be Social
Oxytocin is commonly called the love or cuddle hormone. It is released when you contact someone else and helps regulate mood. It is important to point out that oxytocin is also released even in social settings when you are not being touched. It can be released when you feel love and affection towards something or someone.
Get together with friends or family and allow yourself to let loose and laugh. Have a heart-to-heart talk with close friends or your companion and tell them how much you care. You can also try giving or getting a massage, do things for people you love or do something you love.
When stressed, try to relax and set aside time to decompress and relieve stress. Finding rest and relaxation can be difficult when you suffer from chronic stress, so try to find the right activities that fit you.
Maybe it’s a yoga class, meditation, journaling, or a long bath at the end of a stressful day. It can also be as simple as taking a walk, listening to calm, peaceful music, lighting your favorite scented candle, or doing arts and crafts for a bit. This doesn’t have to be a long routine. A few minutes to slow down and reflect can make a world of difference.
Chronic Stress Can Be Managed
Stress is inevitable as it comes with living, changing, and growing — all of which are vital parts of life. However, it doesn’t have to reach a point that it is crippling and affecting how one functions daily.
If you are experiencing stress for an extended period and other symptoms affecting your body, do not dismiss or ignore them. Take action to avoid or relieve chronic stress as soon as possible. The best approach is getting checked, seeking professional help, active adoption, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and habits.