Personal health and wellness is impacted by much than diet and exercise and can even be affected by something we often face day-in and day-out: Stress.
In fact, there has been a heavy body of research stress and anxiety can start sabotaging components of personal wellness. But if the odds feel stacked up against you, you can lay out a plan to nurture your health and wellbeing.
The Impact of Stress on Personal Health and Wellness
Stress: Something we all face, though difficult to define. However, The American Institute of Stress denotes the most popular and accepted definitions of stress is “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension” and “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”
Interestingly, too, stress can cause both positive and negative outcomes to health.
Although commonly dismissed, stress can actually be healthy. Also known as eustress, this sort of stress is apart of daily life that has positive connotations, including making new friends, graduating from collage, and getting married.
Furthermore, stress can also be highly motivating and lead you to excel in an interview, which may land you your dream job and eventually, a promotion.
On the contrary, chronic stress is often that result of daily responsibilities, including bills and jobs. And unlike eustress, distress has negative connotations, which may include getting a divorce and getting laid off from a job.
Furthermore, a whopping 50 percent of women cited stress and anxiety as factors currently affecting their personal wellness in a 2017 report conducted by Everyday Health. Women also identified “stressing about life” as current wellness challenge, along with worrying about loved ones, weight, and appearance.
Unfortunately, leaving such stressors uncontrolled can sabotage personal wellness and lead to a host of health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, and depression just to name a bare minimum.
Think about it: How often do we want to isolate ourselves by crawling into bed with a bowl of ice cream after a long day? Doing so is impacting physical and social health. What about the times we impulse buy to make ourselves feel better? Constantly swiping the credit card negotiates financial wellness. Or when we are so harsh on ourselves and not allowing self-forgiveness? That is tarnishing emotional wellbeing.
Such distress and anxiety essentially acts as a roadblock throughout the continuous drive and journey to health and wellness. And the longer stress and anxiety are prolonged, the more difficult it is to utilize effective and positive coping techniques.
Reducing Stress for Personal Health and Wellness
People are encouraged not only to alter facets of their lives synergizing stress, but learn to identify and cope with situations that are out of their control. Not only can doing so make you feel better in the moment, but lower the risk of health conditions later down the road. Tips to reduce stress include:
Making Time for Enjoyment
Devoting yourself to the daily grind is commendable, though you should also balance work with play. Make time for enjoyment on the regular, which may include taking an hour to go hike or spending an afternoon with a close friend.
Anxiety can cause people to take rapid and shallow breaths, which can only exacerbate stress and might even trigger a panic attack. So the next time you are feeling anxious, take a quick 10-minute breather to ease stress and refocus.
Evaluating Your Diet
Regularly consuming calorically-dense and nutrient-less products can take a toll on overall health, including increasing the risk of obesity and depression. Incorporate more wholesome foods in the diet, including whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean and plant-based proteins, and healthy fat sources.
Certain foods can also reduce stress thanks to the nutritional properties they provide, including oats, berries, eggs, and yogurt.
Exercise is renowned for fitness gains, though regular physical activity also combats against stress and shown to improve overall mental health. Keep active by biking, swimming, hiking, jogging, and other enjoyable movements.
Resting and Relaxing
Whereas there is a constant push for increasing physical activity, the importance of resting and relaxing for personal wellness should not be slept on. Sleeping the recommended seven to nine hours each night helps ease stress, while relaxing can increase feelings of calmness. Whether by practicing yoga or swaying in a hammock, go to your “happy place” wherever it may be!
Seeking Out Support
Also according to Everyday Health’s report, one-third of women are more afraid of loneliness than a cancer diagnosis! And feeling supported and having healthy relationships are not only key for overall health, but identified top influencers of personal wellness. So whether it be from a friend group or counselor, do not feel ashamed to seek out support.