New studies about the negative effects of stress on our bodies have become so common in recent years that one can't help but to feel stressed out about our stress levels! We've all seen the posts about how stressed we are. How 77% of people experience stress that negatively impacts their physical health. Or how nearly half of all Americans report not being able to sleep due to stress. The fact is we’re all dealing with many different stressors on a daily basis. While stress can be the cause of many serious health-related issues such as heart disease, digestive issues, mental health issues, and stroke, the good news is there are actions we can introduce into our daily routines to counteract the effects of our stress-filled lives and get our bodies and health back on track.
While stress is unavoidable, how we handle it is what determines its impact on our bodies and our overall health. Here are some simple, quick activities anyone can implement to help control your stress, rather than stress controlling you.
Of course we're going to start this list by recommending working out! But truthfully it is arguably the most effective tool we have for combatting the effects of stress. Physical activity has a myriad of health benefits, but when it comes to dealing with stress it's the release of endorphins that helps battle the negative effects stress can have on your body. It can be as simple as going for a walk or bike ride, but the physical activity helps reset your body and mind to help minimize the effects of a stressful day.
Do a Repetitive Task
When thinking of ways to handle stress we often picture someone sitting in a bubble bath surrounded by candles with a glass of wine or meditating on a beach. These are great, but typically not always realistic. A more practical practice may be doing a repetitive task such as cross-stitch, cracking open a coloring book, baking, or doing a jigsaw puzzle. These types of activities that include some type of repetitive motion can be effective in increasing focus and reducing stress. So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t reach for a bottle of cabernet, instead try picking up a basketball and shoot some hoops or bust out an old puzzle and watch your mind clear and stress melt away.
Connect with Others
Often when we’re feeling stressed our instinct may be to shut out the outside world and isolate ourselves. This is actually counterproductive to relieving the overwhelm we feel. Try instead to reach out to family or friends. Social contact can be a good remedy for stress because it can be a distraction from our issues and provide us with the support we need to get through whatever may be bothering us. So, schedule a meetup at a coffee shop or lunch with a co-worker instead of hunkering down and being stressed all alone.
Of course this is far from an exhaustive list of ways to handle stress. Other simple activities to battle stress include meditating, doing yoga, journaling, or talking with a therapist. But no matter what path you choose, the most important thing is to do something. Stress is inevitable, and we know that the effects of stress on the body can be many, but taking control and having a plan for how you handle stress is well within your power.