“It is not stress that kills us; it is our reaction to it.” – Dr Hans Selye (one of the fathers of modern stress research).
Stress is the 21st century health epidemic, according to the U.N. Stress is often referred to as the silent killer and causes many harmful, often overlooked effects, which can introduce pain and strain into your daily activities. It can result in physical suffering as well and can manifest as a headache, upset stomach or back pain, reports Psychology Today.
Our immune system can be compromised reducing the ability to fight off colds and other illnesses the body would normally be able to fight. The first step is identifying the cause. Sometimes these causes are not obvious, so here are four strategies recommended:
Keep a daily stress journal.
- This will help identify how much stress you are under, potential stress triggers and ways to reduce stress in your life.
- Take 15 minutes a day to describe any event that caused you to become stressed and any resulting emotional or physical response.
- Over time, you will be able to identify patterns, which will help you develop healthy management strategies.
- Label your entries with the date and time and use adjectives!
- Take your stress journal to your doctor if you need additional advice.
Learn to say “no” when you have too many activities in your schedule.
- Saying no when you are reaching your limit can be very empowering.
- People will respect your boundaries and be more appreciative of your time when you do agree to take on a favor or additional responsibility.
- Be firm but polite.
- Practice saying “no” in the mirror to gain confidence.
- This may surprise you, but keeping your body hydrated will help you feel better, improve your mood and ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs.
- Your body produces the hormone, cortisol, in response to stress.
- Dehydration, even by levels as low as 17 oz (just over two glasses) increases cortisol levels in your body.
- In addition to drinking water, pay attention to what you eat.
- Diets high in fiber and low in saturated fat have a positive effect on overall mood.
- Diane M Becker, MPH, ScD and Director of the Center for Health Promotion at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, warns people against high-fat, high-glycemic load meals, which “can make you physically feel dysfunctional afterwards”.
- B vitamins, especially folic acid (folate) and vitamin B12 are known to help prevent mood disorders, including depression.
- These vitamins are found in spinach, romaine lettuce, lean chicken breasts, meats, fish, poultry and dairy products.