Stress! Let’s be honest, even the word “stress” can stress us out. Stress is that feeling of tension, both emotional and physical, that can come from an event (or even a thought) that makes you feel anxious, frustrated, nervous, or angry. In other words, stress is your body’s reaction to demanding or challenging circumstances. Living with stress is normal, especially now, as we all have a lot on our plates. The political climate is chaotic. We’re all trying to manage to work from home. We don’t know if we should send our kids back into classrooms. Even a simple trip to the grocery store can be stressful. It goes on and on and on, but it doesn’t have to defeat you. Understanding what causes you to feel stressed out and how to deal with it can help you cope with it so you can continue to thrive.
Types of Stress
Most of us think that all stress is bad, but that is not necessarily true. In fact, there are all kinds of stress—some of it can even be good for us. According to the popular psychology magazine, Psychology Today, there are three main types of stress: acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress.
Acute stress is the most common type of stress. More often than not, acute stress is triggered by a specific stressful event and we experience it daily as a perceived physical, emotional, or psychological threat, but these threats don’t always have to be intense or scary. They can be totally mild and as simple as having to rush to meet a friend for lunch because you’re running a little late.
As the symptoms usually subside once we experience them, acute stress is the most easily managed type of stress. It can also be considered a good type of stress because, in certain situations, it triggers a fight or flight response that can help save us from danger or push us to be more motivated when reaching goals. For example, try to remember a project at work where you were under stress to meet a deadline, but that stress pushed you in a good direction, which led to a successful completion.
Episodic acute stress is different in that it affects certain types of people more than others. Someone who suffers from episodic acute stress can experience intense feelings to relatively normal stressors. Rather than experiencing the symptoms and then letting them fade, they often react dramatically differently and consider the stressor or event something that is a life-or-death situation. For example, many of us may be motivated by a fast deadline at work, but someone with episodic acute stress will spiral and focus all of the horrible outcomes if that deadline isn’t met, rather than focusing on getting the project finished. In certain instances, this type of stress can be debilitating.
Lastly, there’s the most unhealthy type of stress, chronic stress. Chronic stress is most commonly found in those who have long-term stressors, like a prolonged illness, serious financial hardship, or negative relationship issues. These issues make the person experiencing them feel like they are constantly on high-alert. When these types of stressors continue, they can build up and change the person who is dealing with them.
How Stress Impacts Our Health
While some types of stress do not seem like that big of a deal, they really can impact health if experienced too often or for long periods of time. There are many negative side effects to too much stress, including:
- Loss of or increased appetite
- Muscle tension
- Mood swings
- Loss of sleep
- Low energy
- Inability to focus
- Skin breakouts
- Weight loss or gain
- Weakened immune system
- And more
5 Useful Ways to Deal with Stress
While we experience stress at different levels, there are certain things we can do to help ourselves so that we don’t experience the negative side effects above. Here are a few recommendations to try when you’re feeling especially stressed out.
One: Take Good Care of Yourself
When we’re stressed, we often forget to take care of ourselves well. This means we run through the drive-thru instead of fixing a healthy meal at home or we stay up too late instead of going to bed at a decent time. It’s important to keep yourself healthy, but it’s especially important to do so during times of stress. Finding routines and products that are good for you can help combat the negative effects of stress. If you’re too stressed and busy to cook, consider a subscription meal service. Make sure you’re taking time to move your body at least 30 minutes a day. And last, but not least, try things that make you feel great about yourself, like products from SeroVital. Nothing eases stress like feeling healthy inside and gorgeous outside.
Two: Don’t Drink Too Much
We have all been there before … wanting to chug an extra glass of pinot grigio or help ourselves to another one of those fun, canned alcoholic seltzers. While it’s okay once in a while, drinking too much can actually add to stress rather than ease it. Make sure during times of stress that you drink in moderation and stay hydrated. You’ll feel better in the long run.
Three: Talk to Someone
Try leaning on the good listeners in your life. Chatting with friends and family, even virtually, can help reduce stress. Plus, a good laugh or cry with the people you love most can do wonders for your outlook and well-being.
Relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga can make your mind feel more at ease, while your body feels less tension. You don’t have to be an expert or a guru all you have to do is dedicate yourself to a few minutes of mindfulness a day. There are many apps, like Headspace, that can help you get on the right path. Namaste!
Five: Find Balance
Right now, most of us are being pulled in a billion different directions and trying to do too much. It’s important to step away from all of these responsibilities (constantly working from home, taking care of your kids’ and family needs, cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc.) to find some balance for yourself. Make sure you’re taking regular breaks from work, including a lunch break. And remember to make time to do the things you enjoy, like reading, walking, or other fun hobbies you love.
Don’t let stress overwhelm you. Understand what stresses you out and then try these coping mechanisms to keep yourself looking and feeling great no matter what life throws at you.