by Madison Black

Stress is a natural reaction to our life experiences. As humans, we are susceptible to everyday responsibilities that can cause stress from time to time. More serious life experiences such as a new diagnosis, death, moving, etc. can also cause us stress.  For short-term situations, stress can sometimes be beneficial to our health—helping us react in a quick way.  However, too much exposure to stress hormones can affect our bodies negatively. The feeling of stress is triggered by the increase of stress hormones (Cortisol) released by the hypothalamus. These hormones are the same ones that trigger the body’s “fight or flight” response. Our heart begins to race, breathing becomes quick, and our body prepares to react to the situation. This response is only designed for emergency situations.

However, if the stress response stays constant—and stress levels stay elevated, your health could be at risk. This is called chronic stress. Symptoms of chronic stress are:

  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • High blood sugar
  • Tense muscles
  • Heartburn

Chronic stress not only affects our body physically, but can make everyday activities dreadful and unexciting. It is important that we keep a healthy balance between activity and rest.

Implementing Self Care

Now that we’ve talked about how stress can impact our health—let’s talk about ways to care for our mental health to limit those stress factors. The neat thing about self-care is that it can be different for everyone. Self-care promotes the improvement of our physical and mental health. It can help us manage stress and lower risk of mental and physical illness.  Here are some ways to implement self-care into your daily routine:

  • Make sleep a priority
    • 8- 10 hours of sleep a night—stick to a schedule
  • Exercise Regularly
    • Take a 15-30 minute walk everyday
    • Find an at home yoga flow         
  • Get outside and be with nature
  • Find a relaxing activity that you enjoy
    • Guided Meditations
    • Breathing Exercise
    • Journaling
  • Eat regular meals and stay hydrated
    • A balanced diet and lots of water can improve energy and focus
  • Set priorities and goals
    • Say “no” to tasks that feel like too much to handle
    • Stay mindful of tasks you’ve been able to complete
  • Pamper yourself
    • Practice a hygiene routing morning and night

Additional Resources:

Yoga Apps: Glo, Down dog, Pocket Yoga

Guided Meditation Apps: Headspace, Calm, Breethe