When unpredictable life events such as health problems, financial troubles, unexpected job loss, divorce, or death of loved ones becomes difficult to manage, it’s easy to let stress reach unhealthy levels. The best way to prevent and relieve stress is to make self-care a priority, and a regular part of your routine. All too often, we care for our loved ones with a lot more urgency and diligence than we care for ourselves. Understanding the symptoms of stress, and the steps you can take to alleviate it is best way to stay healthy.
According to npr.org, in a study done to determine how stress affects people’s behavior, among the most common changes reported were: sleeping less than usual, eating less (or more) and exercising less were the most frequently cited changes. Unfortunately, these behaviors contribute to stress and add to the problem further. With 1 in 4 adults experiencing a major stressful event within the past year, learning to manage and prevent stress is essential.
Know the symptoms of stress
Some of the symptoms of stress that I observe most frequently in myself and others include: tension and irritability, loss of interest in normal activities, nightmares or recurring thoughts about stressful events, headaches, back pain, and stomach problems.
Make self-care a habit
Taking good care of oneself requires commitment, consistency, and persistence.
Self-care guidelines include:
- Avoid drugs and alcohol – Sadly, many people turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of self-medicating and it is often seen as a stress-reliever. However, it can have the opposite effect, acting as a depressant, and potentially leading to a number of other serious emotional and physical impairments.
- Find support – Whether it’s with friends, family, church, counselor or other health professional, ask for help when stress overwhelms you.
- Eat healthy, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep.
An easy outlet for battling stress and finding some peace in extremely stressful moments is taking up and practicing yoga regularly. Yoga fosters the mind-body connection through a combination of physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditative practices.
For Tiffany Garland, wife, mother of three, full-time executive at a pharmaceutical company, and small business owner of clothing boutiques Blush Maryland and The Pinkwell, being “busy” is an understatement. Without her yoga practice, she would not be able to balance her competing priorities without getting stressed out. While her daughters are in dance class, Mrs. Garland attends 90 minutes of bikram yoga in complete silence, 3-5 days per week. “When I’m in my Bikram practice, it’s the only time of day I’m forced to focus on me. My mind has to let go of the stress that can come from having to balance all of the competing priorities in my life. It’s exercise, but it’s meditative, benefiting my mind, body, and spirit.”