Many of us are feeling more stressed and overwhelmed than ever before, and why wouldn’t we be? It’s not easy dealing with the all the responsibilities and expectations in our lives. It’s not just our personal lives, our instant gratification culture leaves us checking emails, responding to texts and worried about responding ASAP rather than our own self-care. Oh and trying to fit in working out, eating healthy, being or becoming an adult, and taking care of appearances, no wonder more and more Americans are stressed and overwhelmed.
The busy trap is BS. Many people want to do it all but our bodies are telling us that we have got to slow down. Stress does more than just affect your mood; it depletes your body. It keeps you on overdrive while depleting the essential nutrients, amino acids and neurotransmitters your body needs. Whether it’s the short-term stress of a deadline or the chronic stress of an exhausting job, stress impacts our physical and psychological health. In the US, 31% of employed adults say they have difficulty managing work and family responsibilities. In fact, the United States is the second most stressful country in the world. We are consistently
In fact, the United States is the second most stressful country in the world. We are consistently on over-drive and are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and phobias due to our inability to alleviate feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
The effects aren’t just psychological; many times they can manifest physically. More than 90 percent of doctors’ visits are for stress-related health complaints. So, unless we can spot the signs and take action now, it can be difficult to repair the damage that has been done to our bodies, minds, and relationships. Chronic stress makes you more vulnerable to everything from cancer to the common cold if left untreated, so knowing the signs and consequences is essential.
Stressed and Overwhelmed: Common Physical & Psychological Consequences
Stress can manifest in many ways. In fact, 80 to 90% of disease is stress-related. Here are just some of the affects of stress.
- Moodiness & Mood Swings
- Sense of isolation
- Memory Problems
- Poor Judgement
- Racing Thoughts
- Constant Worrying
- Poor Sleep
- Short Attention Span
- Headaches and Migraines
- Muscle Tension
- Skin Problems & Irritation
- Increased Heart Rate & Heart Attacks
- Trouble Breathing
- High Blood Pressure
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Hormonal Imbalance
- Hair Loss
- Weight Gain
In the US, 48 percent of adults say stress has had a negative impact on both their personal and professional lives. Not enough adults in the US, and in many other countries, know how to alleviate anxiety and stress. Try some of these tricks to feel better fast.
How to Reduce Stress & Feel Better Fast
- Focus on ‘Me Time.’ It doesn’t have to be a day full of self-care, but a little me time goes a long way. Whether that means getting a blowout, treating yourself to a manicure, light retail therapy, or going to your favorite class at the gym, these little acts matter. They’re as important if not more so than many of the other things on your to-do list when it comes to releasing and alleviating the feeling of being stressed and overwhelmed. They also allow your mind to clear up space for more creative ideas. Giving yourself time to be your own and do whatever you need brings balance back to your life. So, catch up on your favorite tv, spend time having an impromptu shopping trip with friends, go to brunch. Do something you enjoy. Whatever that may be, give yourself that little time to decompress.
- Get active. Physical activity is an amazing stress reducer, and it also you gives you more energy during those days your feel in a slump. Exercise is a great way to release endorphins in your body, making you feel good, reducing stress, and temporarily increasing energy. An afternoon run, a quick walk through the park, a few moments of yoga, even just light moving can get you out of your body, studies show.
- Let it all out. Whether this means writing it down in a journal, talking to a friend, or even turning it into a different type of to-do list, the actual act of writing it down or turning it into words automatically reduces your stress and helps improve your mood. So, get out a pen and paper, and start writing it down. By getting it out of your mind, you are helping yourself breathe and create space for happier thoughts
- Cut down the caffeine. I say this as I’m drinking a Venti Iced Coffee I picked up at Starbucks, but caffeine has been proven to have a negative effect on stress. It can increase the body’s levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and affect sleeping patterns, leading to more stress.
- Practice Mindfulness. It doesn’t have to be meditation, but allowing your mind to stop thinking about the topic at hand and focus on something else really does help. Combining deep breathing with visual imagery increases oxygen to your brain, helping to calm down and allowing you to move on quickly to the next step when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
- Listen to music that calms you down. Music has the ability to change our moods, help us focus, get us motivated, bring back memories, and help us escape. You don’t listen to the same playlist when you’re doing cardio at the gym vs. studying for midterms, right? Try listening to music you know calms you down, brings back happy memories, and helps you feel happy.
- Get creative. You don’t have to be an amazing artist or musician to get creative. Adult coloring books and other creative outlets are amazing ways to destress. Similarly, cooking something fun or redecorating a space can help you feel a little more in control. Our surroundings can have a profound effect on our mood. Why not make your workspace clean, light, and a fun place to feel motivated?
- Just say no. You don’t have to do anything that brings you stress. Newsflash: it’s ok to say no. You don’t have to answer that email right this moment, you don’t have to go to that networking event your acquaintance invited you to, you don’t have to go to that dinner, and you don’t have to let people take advantage of you. When someone asks for a favor, to borrow something, or for your help in something that will give you anxiety, it’s ok to say no.
- Get healthy. A great way to boost your immune system and fight off stress is through eating the right food and taking supplements. In fact, balanced meals of a lean protein, good fat, vegetables and fruits with a complex carbohydrate can be a brain’s best friend, especially when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. The nutrients in these food help with focus, contribute to well-being, healthy skin & nails, and boost your immune system. Protein is the precursor to serotonin, aka the feel good neurotransmitter.
- Focus on the positive. Stop the negative self-talk, seriously. When you keep talking negatively to yourself or focus on the negatives in a situation, you are setting yourself for disaster, not success. Constant negative self-talk and negative thoughts will do nothing but hurt stress and anxiety.
Your physical and mental state seriously depends on your ability to cope with and overcome stress, to feel happy and relaxed. Get a handle on it now before it takes over your mind and body. Your future self will thank you.
Take Good Care,
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is The Guidance Girl. Her goal is to help YOU become the most confident person you know! Emily is an award-winning author Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, Educational Speaker, and parenting consultant. She travels around the country educating girls, women, and parents. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.