Is the daily toll of stress impacting your health?
You live a busy, hectic, frantic life. Work demands, kid’s activities, relationships to nurture, a home to maintain, social activities, finances to manage, errands to run — it’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out.
Stress has become a normal part of our daily lives. We all experience some amount of stress. We also know that stress either causes or escalates almost every medical or health challenge out there.
When you are stressed your body triggers an alarm system as if you were under attack and releases both adrenalin and cortisol. This is a normal function and is important if a growling tiger was chasing you. But when stressors are always present, like we experience in today’s world, and you constantly feel under attack, this fight-or-flight reaction stays activated.
This constant overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can affect almost all of your body’s systems as it lowers your immune function and increases your risk for many health problems such as digestive and sleep issues, depression, heart disease, low bone density, weight gain, high blood pressure and cholesterol.
So what can you do about stress? It probably feels like you can’t escape it and some of the sources of stress are likely out of your control. Fortunately, there are steps you can take during your day to stabilize cortisol levels and reduce anxiety and stress. Here are three quick and easy practices:
1. Morning minutes: Take five minutes in the morning for a calming, grounding practice before you start your day. This could include five minutes of meditation, journalling, a few awakening stretches or a short yoga practice. These few extra minutes will set your day up right.
2. Daily transitions: Throughout the day it is helpful to make mindful transitions between activities. Whether it’s between meetings, work tasks, at break or lunch time, or to signal the transition between work and home, stop for a few minutes to close your eyes, take in a few deep breaths and check in. Ask yourself, “Am I running on autopilot and mindlessly rushing and multi-tasking throughout the day?” Take a pause before you start the next activity.
3. Nightly gratitude: At night take a few minutes before bed to practice gratitude. Write in a journal or simply think about the things you are grateful for. What went well today? Is there someone who helped you out? No matter how big or small, what are you thankful for?
The stressors in your life likely aren’t going away anytime soon, but learning a few tips and techniques to cope and recover throughout your day can help to reduce the impacts of stress on your health so you can live your day with a bit more peace and enjoyment.
*This post originally was shared by The Herald on November 30, 2013.