Some of the common ways chronic stress can influence your body include a raised risk of hypertension, an upset digestive system, tight muscles, headaches, weakened sexual desire or a weakened immune system.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stress is actually beneficial because it helps people develop skills to adapt to new situations. However, the benefits diminish at a certain point of severity and can then impede a person’s ability to care for themselves. Healthy coping mechanisms are the way to balance good stress with bad stress.
Scott Domingue, Chief Nursing Officer of Texas Health Behavioral Health, provided some tips for dealing with stress.
“Generally, we think about stress in two categories: eustress and distress,” he said. “Eustress is the motivation and excitement we feel when life is going well. It keeps us moving forward toward our personal and professional goals and is considered healthy. Distress is what we commonly think of as negative events that are draining us emotionally and physically. Both eustress and distress combine to either enhance or erode our abilities to perform daily tasks. While we can’t always change the factors leading to stress in our lives, it is important to be aware of how we respond to stress. As we are mindful of our responses, we can improve the stress reaction and reduce the potential negative impact it can have on us emotionally and physically.”
Here are a few tips to help you deal with stress in a better way:
- Change your surroundings. If you know a situation will stress you out, avoid or change it. For example, if the grocery store on the way home has bad parking and long lines, go out of your way to shop at the store you like.
- Say no to too many demands on your time. You can only take on so much! It’s okay to pass on joining yet another organization board or coaching soccer. Your family will benefit from the extra un-scheduled time with you. This will also provide time for self-care routines. For example, instead of committing to an evening project, take the time to attend a yoga class.
- Communicate. It’s okay to tell your boss you feel frustrated by your workload and ask for a solution. It’s okay to ask your spouse for help with a task. No one will know you are upset if you don’t tell them, and if they don’t know, they can’t help.
- Learn from your mistakes. If you know that something caused a particularly stressful situation, learn from it and revise how you deal with it in the future. For example, if putting off an assignment until the last minute caused you to have to work late in the evening and miss a family event, next time try starting the project a week earlier.
- Adjust standards. The house doesn’t have to be spic and span and you don’t have to make all of your family meals from scratch. Nothing has to be perfect … including you! Cutting corners where it will make a difference in your life is a smart move.
- Exercise. Exercise lowers the stress hormone cortisol in your body.
- Laugh. According to Healthline, laughing can help improve your immune system and mood.
If you or someone you know is struggling with stress or other mental health issues, visit Texas Health Behavioral Health or call the helpline at 682-236-6023, which is available 24/7.