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Stress can do a surprising amount of damage to you physical and mental health. We tend to forget the amount of damage it can do to our friends and family. It’s not possible to avoid stress completely but being able to recognize the signs and deal with stressors correctly can be a massive benefit to ourselves and those around us
- over eating / not eating
- social withdrawal
- chest pain
- feeling like you’re losing control
How Stress Effects Us
- increased risk of heart attack / high blood pressure
- Stress increases blood flow to muscles, constricts blood vessels, and increases heart rate. Constant stress to the heart in this manner can lead to heart attacks and stroke. Even in relatively healthy people.
- weakened immune system
- Stress hormones jump starts the immune system, good if you’re hurt but constant stimulation weakens your system leaving you open to illness
- missed periods / heavy or irregular cycle
- Can also magnify symptoms of menopause
- drug / alcohol abuse
- increased chances of depression
- anger / irritation
How Our Stress Affects Others
Someone once told me, we take things out on those we love because we trust them. Unfortunately, that places your chronic stress on them putting them into the same cycle you’ve found yourself.
It’s important to be self aware and listen to those around you. If they lash out back at you, it’s likely they are feeding off your stress. They may also ask why you’re acting or talking a certain way, this is a great trigger that you may need to dial it back and evaluate. There’s nothing wrong with saying you need a moment to think or calm down.
We all have a mechanism in our brains that copycats those in our social circles. These are called “mirror neurons” and are used to help social circles empathize, bond, and learn. We see these in action when we yawn after another person or we mirror our work collages posture. This also goes for emotions.
Steps to reduce Stress
- Start writing in a journal
- A journal can help you recognize stressors as well as help you naturally work out solutions
- Try to locate your triggers
- If you can, figure out what your common stressors are that you can control. If it’s you commute, maybe discuss flex time with your boss to avoid traffic or maybe telecommute a once or twice a week. If it your kids when you get home, work with a family member or spouse to watch your kids for a moment to decompress. You may not be able to address every stressor but you’ll be surprised what targeting only a few can do for your physical and mental health.
- The 4 A’s
- Avoid stress
- if you can by saying “no”, keep away from those who stress you out that you don’t have to interact with, take control over your environment such as the the TV or shopping in a less crowded store, reduce your todo list to the necessities.
- Alter your situation
- Express yourself to those that add to your stress by limiting conversation or letting them know they are adding to your stress. Most people will sympathize and be willing to help, compromise where possible, be mindful of your workload.
- Try to put a silver lining on problems such as bad traffic is a chance to listen to a new audiobook or podcast, look at the big picture / the long term odds are the problem won’t have as long of an effect as you think
- Accept things you can’t change
- Don’t try to control the uncontrollable sometimes it’s easier to prepare than fight the inevitable, learn to forgive those that caused stress or make mistakes holding on to something that’s causing stress to you but no the other person is just poisoning yourself.
- Talk to loved ones, vent. Find a person at work, at home, friend, or family that’s happy to just listen to you talk. They may be able to help with solutions. If you just want to vent without getting feedback, let them know.
- MOVE THAT BODY
- hit a heavy bag / excersize
- dance like an idiot
- go for a walk
- Do something out of the ordinary
- take a painting class
- lay in the grass and find pictures in clouds
- drink some coffee or tea and do nothing
- Manage your time better by not over committing to things, making a list of priorities, white board your items at work or display them so other know you have a lot going on, break things into steps
- Take a break / breather