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Reducing Your Level of Stress for a healthier Life

Everyone experiences highly stressful situations. Stress can be caused by one off events known as life events (e.g. a family bereavement) which are typically high in intensity but short in duration or daily hassles (e.g. inconveniences, money issues, ongoing health issues) which represent the accumulation of stress due to multiple incidents over time, they are usually high in frequency but low/moderate in intensity.

Stress is experienced due to the perceived inability to cope with stressors (e.g. a stimulus) or an impending demand. However, the frequent triggering of the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response is reported to be exceedingly detrimental to physical, emotional and psychological health and well-being. So, what are some of the most widely recommended approaches to dealing with stress?

5 Top Stress Busting Tips

  1. Exercise - Exercise is a very effective method to decrease stress and is additive to mental and physical health [1]. Sleep quality can dramatically improve following exercise which can in turn can reduce stress [2]. Even a short duration (>2 weeks) of low-moderate exercise is reported to reduce anxiety sensitivity and associated symptoms [3]. Furthermore, the release of endorphins with exercise induces feelings of positivity and happiness which is fundamental for ensuring mental health is upheld [4].
  2. Yoga and Meditation - Yoga is extensively reported to yield positive physical and psychological benefits [5]. It involves active stretching and controlled body movements, with a primary focus on spirituality where the mind and body become one. Meditation involves mindfulness, whereby you focus on your breathing to induce relaxation [6]. It can be as quick as 5 minutes to complete which makes it a popular and effective stress busting strategy.
  3. Lifestyle Changes - Changing elements of your lifestyle such as improving sleep duration and quality, changing your diet to a healthier alternative or exercising more frequently are all fast strategies to reducing the impact of stress on the body. Sleep quality is crucial in reducing the risk of burnout syndrome [7]. It is also important not to isolate yourself when in a stressed state, possibly seeking support from friends or a professional may be useful.
  4. Medication - Following advice from a doctor, prescription medication may help you to deal with stress. This solution may be viable following extreme symptoms or following the unsuccessful trial of alternative strategies.
  5. Counselling - This is an important one. Seeking professional advice that is tailored to you specifically can be very helpful. It is important to be proactive and confident in reaching out, as counselling can significantly improve quality of life and a sense of wellbeing for those experiencing the adverse implications of chronic stress.

How to Treat the Symptoms of Long-Term Stress

Long term stress or ‘chronic stress’ is responsible for inducing negative long-term health implications. Chronic stress should be reduced by lifestyle changes or coping strategies; however, this may not be practical for a variety of reasons. If a suitable coping strategy is not quickly identified and significant health conditions ensue, treatments may be necessary to moderate the adverse health implications:

Unintended Weight Changes - Stress can cause weight change fluctuation. The risk of obesity is increased due to rapid weight gain as a result of negative emotions and the craving for calorie rich foods. Alternatively, unintended weight loss can also be a consequence of high stress due to increased energy metabolism and a reduction in digestion functionality [8]. Treatment: To treat obesity, prescription medication treatments are readily available accompanied by lifestyle changes such as reduced diet and increased exercise. To increase your appetite and to address unintended weight loss due to anxiety induced from high stress, anxiety medication can be prescribed by a doctor.

Hair Loss - Another common side effect of stress is hair loss, it is strongly associated with traumatic events predominantly [9]. However, daily stressors have also been associated with hair loss; especially for stress experienced on an extended, perpetual basis. Treatment: Treatment for hair loss is available from a reliable source such as Pharmica Online Pharmacy. There are a range of medications available to promote hair regrowth and attenuate hair loss.

Mental Health Problems - Impaired medial prefrontal cortex functionality due to chronic stress has been reported to increase the propensity for the onset of anxiety and depression [10]. Treatment: Counselling is important to ensure you receive professional ongoing advice.

Sexual Dysfunction - For men, chronic stress can lead to erectile dysfunction; however, it can also be a source of stress [11]. For women, sexual drive and lack of sensation can decrease due to stress acting as a distraction [12]. Treatment: For men, it is important to source effective treatment from a reliable source to help treat erectile dysfunction. For women, lifestyle changes may off an effective way to increase sex drive and reduce distractions.

Burnout Syndrome - Describes complete exhaustion due to intense, prolonged, emotional, psychological and physical fatigue [13]. Some of the symptoms include: Increased illness, changing sleeping/eating habits, loss of motivation, negative thoughts and isolation. Treatment: Rest is essential. Time removed from a stressor is important to let the body sufficiently recover.

Whilst this advice is non-exhaustive nor a direct replacement of that from professionals, hopefully it is useful at emphasising the importance of managing your level of stress and the variety of strategies that you could use to try and improve your health and well-being.


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