Stress Relief

5 Stress Relief methods to improve your Health

Do you know that 77 percent of the world’s population faces health problems due to stress? Our lives have become so mundane and complicated that we experience stress in many forms –physical, social, psychological. It is quite obvious that not many of us do anything for stress relief. We have become immune to it. In fact, stress has become a part of our daily routine. We cannot avoid it completely.

What does that mean for us? It means that we are at risk of experiencing pressures of stress and its consequences. Up till now, several kinds of research have made it to the press about how stress relief should be encouraged. But honestly, I don’t see that being practiced by many people. Due to our busy schedule, we hardly spare any time to relax.

Before we move on to more details, let’s talk about what is stress? It is a force, a type of physical or emotional tension. And our body responds to it through the fight or flight response. Stress hormones, cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine are released as a response. Excess of these hormones poses several health issues.

Stress is not always a negative response. Eustress, positive stress pushes us to complete our tasks. It motivates us to move forward. However, distress pulls us back. It destroys a person’s ability to perform well.

The ability to perceive stress and cope with it depends on various factors. Some people feel more stressed than others under the same circumstances. Genetics, childhood trauma, personality, and social conditions can alter a person’s way of responding to it.

In this article, I want to highlight the health problems caused by stress. We all feel stressed from time to time -at school, home or workplace. Too much of it begins to manifest physically and can harm our well-being. Once we acknowledge these problems, only then we can sort out some management plan for stress relief.

Health Problems Caused by Stress

1. Eating Disorders

When we are stressed out, our natural response is to look out for comfort. Some people share their problems with a loved one, friends, or family. Some people like to sleep when they are stressed. There are different coping mechanisms.

However, there is a class of people who find comfort in food when they are under stress. It calms their anxiety. So they binge eat. Food brings them the comfort that they need. Resultantly, it becomes a cycle. When they are stressed, they eat. And once they overeat, they feel ashamed and stressed. Either way, these people tend to suffer from obesity later in life.

On the other hand, anorexia is very much linked with stress. Social and emotional stress can cause a person to have an unhealthy body image. Therefore, these people become anorexic. They are not able to eat properly.
So how a person responds to stress varies. But eating disorders have become very common among teenagers and stress is a major contributing factor.

2. Digestive Problems

Stress can affect every part of our digestive system. Under pressure, cortisol is released as a body’s response by the central nervous system. This hormone can trigger the digestive organs and create undesirable symptoms.

Stress is known to cause mouth ulcers and peptic ulcers. Inflammatory bowel disease, mostly seen in women is an autoimmune disease that is triggered by stress. People experience remittent episodes of diarrhea. Inflammatory bowel syndrome is another gastric disease seen in women. It manifests as alternating episodes of diarrhea and constipation.

Gastric acid is also produced in excess under stress. It can damage the internal lining of the stomach, causing acidity and damage tooth enamel.

3. Sleep Disorders

Stress has the ability to disorient our circadian rhythm. It can trigger sleep problems and also affect the quality of our sleep. Many people face sleepless nights when they are going through a tough time. These people experience insomnia, anxiety, and fatigue.

Staying up all night also affects their cognition and concentration abilities.

However, there are certain sleep disorders caused by too much stress on the body. Sleep apnea is one of them. According to research, 50% of the people who had sleep apnea experienced highly stressful situations. In these people, at a certain point in their sleep, their breathing stops for a while. They are unable to move and tend to have nightmares.

4. Cardiac Illness

Stress can cause an increase in heart rate, palpitations, and high blood pressure. People who already have a tendency to develop hypertension can develop vascular pathologies. Chronic stress can lead to several cardiac problems. Ischemic heart diseases, chest pain, and acute heart attack are most common.

5. Fatigue

As mentioned earlier, stress can disrupt the sleep cycle. A person who does not get enough sleep is likely to feel tired the next morning. Stress can cause emotional disturbance and produce depression symptoms. Even if someone is sleeping too much when they are under stress, they still feel tired. This is because their brain is never on rest. Emotional stress lingers and causes fatigue.

Steps for Stress Relief

Now that we have discussed major symptoms seen in people due to stress, let’s talk about what we can do for stress relief. It is true that we cannot avoid situations in life, but we must learn to manage accordingly.

1. Exercise

We ignore the benefits of exercise. Since always, we have heard people talk about how exercise is essential. One must stay active and exercise their muscles to lead a healthier life. But we tend to throw that fact under the table.

When we exercise, our body produces endorphins. These hormones are mood elevators and natural painkillers. People who work out regularly say, that they feel light and happy after doing exercise. Physical activity can improve the quality of life and provide significant stress relief.

2. Stress Relieving Food

The research was done in 2017 by the University of Minnesota which revealed that eating disorders can alter food preferences. Stress increases cortisol levels which in turn increase the appetite. Therefore, these people tend to binge eat. High sugar and fat intake result in obesity and high blood pressure.

However, there are certain food elements that reduce the levels of this hormone and protect our bodies against stress. Almonds contain a high proportion of magnesium that lowers cortisol levels. Omega 3 fatty acid-rich food such as fish, nuts, vegetable oil also provide stress relief by boosting mood. Vitamin C is proven to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive people.

3. Meditation and Yoga

Meditation is known to produce a deep state of relaxation and mindfulness. It orients our distorted ideas and thoughts and gives them a meaningful abstract. A recent Health Psychology review was done in 2021 in which they observed people who had high cortisol levels. Meditation was used as a stress-reducing tool. After the study, it was revealed that meditation had splendidly lowered cortisol levels in people who suffered from extreme stress.

There are several guided meditations that you can find on YouTube. They have proven to help a number of people with their stress and anxiety.

Yoga is another mind-body technique for stress relief. Breathing exercises and stretching can together lower the levels of adrenal stress hormones.

4. Smoking and Drinking

Alcohol intake is quite common among all age groups and it is a serious threat to our health. Tobacco smoking, caffeine, and alcohol increase the risk of stress-induced hypertension. So even if you think they help you calm down, you need to cut down on these drugs for effective stress relief.

5. Psychotherapy

Considering therapy for stress relief is a good choice. If you are someone who has always struggled to control their anxiety and stress, you should consider getting professional help.

A therapist mainly proceeds through Cognition Behavioral Therapy for such patients. They also offer breathing exercises and other tasks which help people in stress management.

Once you have figured out stress triggering factors in your life, it will become easy for you to target those areas. The quality of life improves when you are not under stress. The long-term side effects of stress and related health problems can also be avoided if you begin to apply these techniques for stress relief in your everyday life.



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