You are more than just a sum of your body parts. You are a complicated creature that reacts to physical health, emotional states, traffic, noise, weather, and other people. There is an intimate connection between your physical self and your inner self — the body/mind connection.
This post discusses the various stress symptoms and offers a stress reduction tip.
Stress and your physical health
Heart attack survivors suffering from stress have a higher chance of dying. Stress causes the plaque to thicken which will eventually lead to another heart attack. In addition, heart attack survivors suffering from stress also feel greater physical limitations and a worsen quality of life. You cannot separate your physical health from your emotional health.
Stress is a fact of life. Positive stress is challenging while negative stress is overload. It is a good thing to have a little positive stress in your life because they are often defining moments in your life (ie. how you handled a big project, pregnancy, or recover from an injury). These moments let you know what you are made of (and you are far more capable than you give yourself credit). However, negative stress often manifests into physical stress symptoms.
When you feel stress, your body’s immediate reaction is to produce more adrenaline and cortisol. These two hormones shift your body into fight or flight mode by increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension. However, in the modern era, instead of killing a wild beast, you internalized all these physical stress symptoms. Without an outlet, you become chronically stressed.
Symptoms of chronic stress include:
- You are eating more or eating less than normal (hence weight gain or weight loss).
- You are constantly fatigue.
- Your sleeping habits change (either sleeping more or suffering from insomnia).
- You have unexplained aches and pains that are not related to an injury or exercise.
- You are more forgetful.
- Your behavior changes (more anxious, angry, or nervous than normal).
- You are drinking, smoking, or using drugs more often.
- You get sick more often.
Stress reduction tip with mindful relaxation
The opposite of stress is personal peace. Notice the word “personal.” It is different for everyone. For the majority of us, achieving personal peace (that zen-like state) is a process that we need to practice regularly.
Here is a stress reduction technique using mindful relaxation:
- Sit or lie down. Close your eyes and relax every muscle. I like to envision a small gray cloud that starts at my head, slowly growing bigger as it travels down my body (gathering all my stress), and expelling from the soles of my feet. I repeat this imaginary until I feel the tension leaving my body.
- Breathe through your nose. Become aware of each breath. Sometimes it helps to repeat one word or a few phrases while you are breathing. As I gather the gray forces in my body, I like to mentally say “Out!” each time I shot the gray forces away from my body.
If you usually do not sit still, you might find this stress reduction technique challenging at first. Maybe it might seem like a waste of time to sit or lie so still, but give this stress reduction technique a try. Challenge yourself by measuring how long you are able to practice being still each day.
You will find that regular practice of this stress reduction tip will:
- Improve your concentration
- Increase your awareness of tension in your body
- Reduce your fight or flight responses.
A recent study that included 62 “stressed out” individuals found that those who practice the stress reduction technique of using mindful relaxation, 54% notice a reduction in psychological distress by the end of the 3 month study. The control individuals had no such stress reduction. The mindful relaxation group also reported a 46% drop in medical symptoms.
So the next time you are experience stress symptoms, practice this stress reduction tip to see if you can get that gray cloud of stress out of your system.
Until next time and thanks for stopping by Small Steps to Health.
Photo by: anna gutermuth.
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