Stress is nothing new. Stress is, in fact, part of being human. It’s even part of being a dog, a cat, or a horse. And here’s the thing – stress isn’t “bad”, by nature. Stress is a necessary component of survival.
Our ancestors ran away from wild animals because of their stress responses. Today, stress serves us by keeping us on our toes and alert to danger, just the way it always has.
But stress can turn on us, and that’s when it becomes a problem. When we’re under consistent pressure to perform, or experiencing endless life challenges, we can be worn down by it. That’s when stress can have deleterious affects on our health.
The cost of stress.
The highest cost of stress is to our health, but did you know that stress costs US employers $300 billion dollars a year in lost work days?
Being in a state of high tension all the time demands a lot from your body. It can impact everything from your sleeping patterns to your heart. It can even exacerbate conditions like arthritis and produce unnatural muscle tightness.
When 43% of us (that’s almost half) suffer from stress and related health conditions, it’s a public health problem that needs to be addressed.
Addressing the stress.
There’s a lot you can do to relieve the effects of stress. Knowing how stress is affecting you is the first step toward helping yourself, or turning to a professional source of relief, like a massage therapist.
One thing you can do on your own is recognizing stress for what it is and taking direct action. One action you should take is to get out of the stressful situation (whether it’s work, or home life) and go outside. Take a walk around the block, if that’s all you have time for. Go outside and hug the nearest tree (or your dog).
While this may sound trite, the physical act of smiling can make a tremendous difference to the way you feel. Even if your grin seems cheesy to you, just making your face do it has a healing effect that’s measurable. It also slows your heart rate. So, put on a happy face to combat stress, whenever you feel it spiraling out of control.
Turning off the negative self-talk (those uncomplimentary self-rebukes we sometimes indulge in when things aren’t going our way) can really help. Think of things that make you happy. What are you grateful for? Why are you here (in this job/relationship/coffee shop line up)?
It’s been proven that the negativity arising from stress can weaken your immune system, with disastrous effects. Keeping your mind alive with positivity is a valid defense against stress.
While you can’t always remove the source of your stress, you most certainly can call on coping strategies that boost your mood, lower your heart rate and protect your health.
How is stress affecting you? If you’re finding it’s gotten to the point where keeping a lid on it is increasingly difficult, contact us. We’re pain relief specialists who can help.