Healthy ways to cope with stress

Healthy ways to cope with stress

Put simply, what we call “stress” is our brain’s response to a threat or demand. While not all of these changes in brain chemistry are harmful (like the exhilaration of accomplishing a challenging physical feat or reacting quickly to a dangerous situation), chronic or major stressors can have a long-term negative impact on your health. These more traumatic stress factors can even lower the immune system and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.

Our daily lives are fraught with major and chronic stress-inducers, including the rigors of career, school and home life. You may be dealing with demanding bosses or family members, caring for a sick friend or family member, experiencing financial hurdles or setbacks or dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic event. Periods of stress are a normal part of life, so it’s best to deal with it in positive, healthy ways.

There are simple and natural ways to alleviate stress, including meditation, deep breathing exercises and variety of healthy physical activity, such as yoga, exercise classes and strength and cardio workouts. Getting enough sleep at night and engaging in mood-boosting activities—including exercising, cooking a healthy meal, journaling, reading a good book or socializing with friends and loved ones—during the day can help to alleviate stress. All of these activities have a positive and lasting effect on the body, and can alleviate chronic muscle tension and pain, keep your heart, lungs and other organs functioning properly and even lower your risk factors for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.

Although there are many positive ways of dealing with stress, many people often chose unhealthy ways to cope with the stressors of daily life. Some of these unhealthy reactions to stress include periods of inactivity, isolation, overeating, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and the abuse of anti-anxiety and other drugs.  

If you need additional help overcoming stress, your physician may prescribe anti-anxiety or other mood-enhancing medication. You should never take these types of medication without first consulting with your doctor. Also, it is not uncommon for these types of medications to have unhealthy side effects or to possibly become habit-forming. Even natural supplements that claim to reduce stress may have negative side effects or inhibit the impact of other medications you may be taking. Again, always talk to your healthcare provider before taking any type of supplement.  

If you’re having trouble coping with the negative effects of stress, consult with your healthcare provider.

Posted: 8/24/2015 by Goshen Health
Filed under: health, stress

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