Stress is difficult to deal with, but chronic stress can lead to a lot of health problems physically and emotionally. Chronic stress "can suppress your immune system, upset your digestive and reproductive systems, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speed up the aging process. It can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems" ( Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., Robert Segal, M.A., and Lawrence Robinson, "Stress, Symptoms, Signs and Causes", Stress Symptoms, Signs, and Causes - HelpGuide.org, 3/29/2021).
We need to all develop ways to cope with stress and help manage it before it turns into something more serious. So, first thing first, breath, no really, just breathe, take a deep breath and relax. Find deep breathing activities like meditation and yoga, they are helpful in allowing you to relax and return to a better state of mind. Some other proven ways we can relax are:
1. Exercise decreases stress hormones and increases endorphins
2. Eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables and not processed foods and refined sugars
3. Visiting or connecting with family and friends is important and improves your mood and stress level
4. Decrease the amount of caffeine you consume
5. Engage the senses, go out for a walk or listen to music
Stress is a part of life, and although we can't eliminate it, we don't need to let it consume us. Using techniques to help relieve stress so it doesn't turn into anxiety, depression or other mental health issues is greatly important to our quality of life. Also, don't hesitate to speak with your health care provider for more information and ways to cope.