Updated September 19, 2018
Stress is part of daily life. It triggers chemical and hormonal changes in your brain and body to help you respond to the demands of work, family, and situations large and small.
You expect to feel stress when facing challenges like a death, divorce, financial worries, or job loss. But even positive events—buying a house, planning a wedding, having a baby—can trigger stress. It’s important to learn how to cope before stress takes a toll on your physical and mental health.
The impact of chronic stress
When stress becomes ongoing, or chronic, hormones stay elevated and you can experience a variety of conditions from headaches to digestive troubles and weight gain. Chronic stress can also lead to insomnia, depression or and irritability. It can make it hard to concentrate and take a toll on your immune system. Stress is also linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
How you can manage stress
The good news is, you can cope with stress and not let it get the better of you. Here are some tips:
- Know your limits. Learn to say “no” sometimes. It will help with time management.
- Get active. Take a 30-minute walk or engage in some gentle exercise every day. Exercise releases endorphins, a natural stress reliever.
- Eat a healthy diet. If your body feels better, so will your mind.
- Empower yourself. Meditation and breathing exercises can help you relax. Try three-minute meditation breaks or mindfulness with imagery.
- Stay connected. Spend time with family and nurture healthy friendships.
- Learn to relax. Look for yoga, tai chi, or reiki classes in your community.
- Ask for help if stress is severe. A professional can provide talk therapy and teach you to use techniques like biofeedback to help reduce your stress.
Remember, stress, especially chronic stress, can affect your health. Talk your healthcare provider who can offer suggestions or put you in touch with someone who can.