How do you know if you’re taking on stress and symptoms of stress in your body?
What is stressful for you may not be stressful for someone else. For some, the holidays are a time of joy and hapiness. For others, the holidays conjure up painful memories, regret, awkward interactions and feelings of not having or being enough. This can cause negative feelings which can lead to physical symptoms of stress in your body.
Since people react to stress in different ways, if you can identify your own signs of stress, these symptoms can serve as your body’s way of telling you something is out of balance.
According ehealthmd.com, you can assess yourself for the four types of stress signs:
- Changes in bodily functions and physical health. For example, do you experience more backaches, neck and shoulder pain, muscle tension, general body pain, nervous stomach, breathing problems, fatigue, sleeplessness?
- Changes in emotions and feelings. Do you feel more worried, sad, fearful, irritable, tense, angry, resentful? Is the joy gone from your life?
- Changes in behavior. Have you experienced changes in the amount you eat, sleep, consume alcohol or drugs, want sex?
- Changes in how you think. Do you find it difficult to be positive, concentrate and focus, remember things? Do you feel out of control, hopeless or helpless?
All of these changes in behavior, feelings and physical health can be signs of the prolonged effects of stress on your body. There is ample medical evidence to suggest that if you ignore these warning signs and allow them to go unchecked, stress can wreck havoc with your physical, mental and emotional health and can lead to major disease and death.
So what do you do?
If you find you’ve been living with major stress for a while, here are a few tips to help ease your stress during this holiday season.
- Focus on what you want. If you put your attention squarely on what you want, you will achieve it. Likewise, if you focus on how much stress you’re under, all the things you haven’t done yet, how much you dread getting together with the in-laws and other extraeous negative self-talk, then that’s exactly what you’ll experience. What you focus on is what you attract to you.
- Rember to breathe. It is estimated that we have something on the order of 80%-90% stale air in our lungs simply because we breathe in a shallow manner. Our bodies just don’t get enough air to thrive. Start by taking long, slow, deep breaths all the way down from your belly. If it’s safe to close your eyes, do this too. Bring all your thoughts to the center of your head while you focus on your breath. This one exercise alone will rejuvenate you body, help you gain your balance and focus and regain some sense of control when you’re under stress.
- Remember that you are not your To Do list. If you don’t get everything done today, the world will not come to an end. No matter what you do accomplish, another list will be there tomorrow. So give yourself a break. Set reasonable goals and prioritize. Set your sights on accomplishing the most important tasks and leave the rest for tomorrow or another day.
- Celebrate your successes. At the end of the day, give yourself credit for what you did accomplish instead of what you didn’t get done. Maybe you underestimated the amount of time it would take to do something. Give yourself a pat on the back for reaching a milestone and moving closer to the accomplishment of a longer-term goal.
- Try to enjoy each moment as it happens. I know this can be difficult for some people, especially under stressful economic conditions, but if you’re always looking backward with regret or looking forward to the future, you’ll never get to enjoy what the present moment has to offer. Once it passes, it’s gone forever.
- Take some time each day to consider what you’re grateful for. Since it’s impossible to think two thoughts simultaneously, this will give your mind a needed break from negative or fearful thinking. If you’re focused on what you’re grateful for, you’ll allow more joy to enter your life and pretty soon you’ll notice a shift in your attitude, your thinking, your feelings, your body and most importantly, your level of stress.
More tips next time…