What Happens When You Experience Stress?
Everyone experiences stress in their daily lives. It’s part of what makes you alive. And while your body’s response to stressors can help you in times of danger, it can also quickly snowball out of control.
What Happens When You Experience Stress?
When faced with a stressful situation, the body releases chemicals and hormones like cortisol to stimulate action. You may experience a rapid heart rate, labored breathing, elevated blood pressure, and tense muscles. This is useful in situations where you may be in immediate danger or you have to act fast.
Many people are saddled with chronic stress in their lives. Unfortunately, your body is simply not designed to withstand the symptoms of stress over the long term. Elevated cortisol levels from stress can wreak havoc on your health, contributing to diabetes, high blood pressure, and a number of other chronic conditions.
Stress can also cause tension headaches. These can keep you from spending quality time with your family and participating in activities you enjoy. That can lead to increased stress, which will compound the problem.
Be Aware of Your Stress Triggers
Some things that seem stressful to you may not cause your best friend to think twice. Identify the situations, people, or times that cause you to feel most stressed. Once you know what these triggers are, work to avoid them when possible.
Conquer Stress Naturally
Of course, you can’t always avoid stress. Luckily, stress doesn’t have to define you or your mood. Be prepared the next time it comes knocking on your door with one of these seven natural ways to relieve stress.
1. Reduce Caffeine Intake
Caffeine raises cortisol levels and acts as a stimulant on the body. This can easily exacerbate the symptoms of stress like elevated blood pressure and heart rate. High levels of caffeine can lead to chronically elevated cortisol levels.
2. Get Moving
Regular exercise is one surefire way to help moderate moods and combat the effects of stress. You don’t have to go all out, either. Simply taking a walk can help regulate your body and return stress levels to normal.
Aim to get around 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days. Don’t beat your self up if you skip a day or two, just work to get back on track.
A side bonus of exercise is that it can help relieve symptoms of some health conditions, like high blood pressure and uncontrolled blood sugar, that are brought on by chronic stress.
3. Practice Gratitude
Don’t just say thank you, but really learn to appreciate the world around you. Take time to recognize the beauty of nature, appreciate the friends and family you have, and acknowledge the many things you have worked hard to earn.
The simple act of turning your attention to the amazing bounty you are surrounded with every day can help take the edge off when things don’t go quite the way you had hoped. Try making a simple gratitude jar that you can fill throughout the week. Each time you pass it, add a small stone or marble to the jar and say or think of something you are grateful for. As your jar fills up you will have a chance to actually see how much you have to be grateful for.
4. Try Aromatherapy
Certain smells can make you feel happy, sad, energized, or relaxed. Aromatherapists have known these secrets for many years, but more people are finding the benefits of adding specific scents to their environment.
Soothing lavender or lemon balm are excellent choices to help combat stress. Some people find the uplifting scents of lemon, Bergamot, and other citruses to be helpful as well. If you are unsure about what scent to try, consider using a pre-blended formula. Some companies offer blends designed to soothe, relax, or uplift, and you are sure to find one that works for you.
Photo by Richard Jaimes on Unsplash
5. Take a Deep Breath
Meditation and focused breathing have been shown to reduce stress and lower cortisol levels naturally. Consider learning a basic meditation technique to help regulate your response to stress. If you’re not quite ready to try meditation, deep breathing can also be effective.
6. Chew Gum
There is evidence that chewing gum can lower cortisol levels, particularly during stressful situations. Since cortisol is responsible for the body’s physical reaction to stress, chewing gum may help return your body to a calmer, more relaxed state. So, the next time you are experiencing a stressful situation, reach for a piece of gum to chew your way to a better mood.
7. Find Strength in Numbers
Social interaction is a fun and easy way to combat anxiety and depression that can result from feeling stressed. Call a few friends and make plans to get together. And who knows? You may realize things aren’t so bad as you talk them through and lean on your friends for support.
A little stress can be good. Chronic stress, however, can lead to a host of health and other problems. Find your balance by using one of these seven natural ways to relieve stress in your life.
Article Contributed by Dr. Dee a chiropractor at Healing Hands Chiropractic. With more than 10 years of professional practice experience, Dr. Dee knows how to treat pediatrics, pregnancy, sports injuries, back pain, neck pain, and everything in between.