Stress is never pleasant, but it is a part of life. How we respond to stress and how much stress we can handle is extremely individual and changes as we move through different phases of our life.
Since stress can impact our psychological and physical wellbeing, it’s important to know what to look out for and recognize the signs, as it’s not always obvious. Let’s look at what stress looks like and how we can reduce its effects.
What are some common signs of stress?
While everyone is different, there are some primary indicators that someone is feeling stressed or anxious. Here are just a few:
- Grinding or gritting your teeth (if you don’t consciously do this, you may be doing it at night and wake up with a sore jaw in the morning)
- Irritability, mood swings, easy-to-anger
- Fatigue and chronic pain
- Digestive problems, stress ulcers, diarrhea, and nausea
- Finding it hard to relax and get to sleep at night (this can develop into insomnia)
- Decreased sex drive – intimacy either feels unimportant or like a distraction
- Tension headaches and migraines
- Tension in your back and shoulders, this tension often takes the form of muscular knots
- Difficulty concentrating on one thing at a time and becoming overwhelmed by decision making
- Regularly eating too much or too little
- Losing your train of thought and a smaller vocabulary
- Finding small problems extremely stressful or anxiety-inducing, though they normally wouldn’t bother you
As we can see, something that goes on inside our minds can have a serious effect on our physical health. When we’re not feeling ourselves on the inside, we may unknowingly start to show that on the outside.
How can I reduce stress in my daily life?
While it is impossible to eliminate all stress from our lives, there are ways we can manage it to make our lives easier. Here are some tips for reducing everyday stress:
- Maintain a balanced diet, full of fresh produce, healthy fats, and not too much sugar. Avoid eating too much overly processed and deep-fried food.
- Exercise regularly, whether you prefer to go to the gym, go running in the park, simply go for a brisk walk before dinner, or practice home workouts.
- Practice meditation or breathing exercises first thing in the morning and right before you go to sleep. This will slow down your heart rate, sending the message to your brain that you are feeling calmer.
- Treat yourself to a massage every so often. The physical benefits of a massage will ease tension in your muscles and help reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone) in the body, both of which will ease your mind. Of course, massages are a time you’ve carved out purely for you, and can give you time away from the outside world.
- Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake, as these can worsen stress symptoms and feelings.
- Consider making lifestyle changes – sometimes, stress management isn’t enough, and we need to consider making major changes. If your stress is something you can avoid, such as a stressful job or living situation, consider changing it. Short-lived extreme stress (like that experienced when a family member is in hospital) can be endured, but if you’re in a situation that is unlikely to change, consider if it’s really important enough to you to sacrifice your mental and physical health.
At A Valley of Vitality, we know that life can be stressful at times. We also know that a healthy mind and a healthy body go hand in hand, and both are equally important to maintain. We offer a wide range of calming therapeutic services, from CBD-infused massages and prenatal massages to reflexology and cranial sacral therapy. To view our full list of services, click here.