Stress is a natural emotional and physical process. For example, when you’re running away from a dangerous person, the stress you’re experiencing causes your body to release certain chemicals that make you think sharper and run faster. In this situation, it’s a healthy response.
However, prolonged stress can be dangerous to your long-term health and happiness. We typically aren’t running from a fearful situation every moment of the day, but when your body thinks that you are the resulting stress won’t help you; it will hurt you.
Why Stress Hurts
When your body feels stress, it naturally knows to release a chemical from the adrenal medulla called catecholamines. Catecholamines include epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and dopamine.
If your body releases catecholamines too frequently, it can harm all of the body’s systems and lead to symptoms such as elevated pulse and high blood pressure. Neither of these states promote healthy circulation or heart health.
Do We Have to Live With Stress?
While some stress is a part of normal, everyday living, you can control the amount of stress you experience over the long term by taking proactive steps toward relieving it before and as it occurs.
Here are seven lifestyle changes you can make to help you reduce your stress to a healthy level and avoid the negative consequences:
It’s typical for people to think that an exercise plan needs to last several hours each day. However, simply exercising 2-3 times weekly can burn significant amounts of catecholamines out of your system and flood your body with endorphins. This improves sleep and reduces blood pressure and pulse levels. Quick ways to get more exercise into your life include moving around more at work or going for a walk during lunch time.
- Take Time for Yourself
Take time to focus on yourself throughout the day. Do this by breathing deeply and concentrating on how you feel, which will decrease your level of stress by lowering your respiratory rate and blood pressure.
- Sleep Well
Sleeping well is essential to lowering stress. Swap out activities that will stimulate your brain before bed such as TV and exercise with relaxation habits like meditation. Help your body wind down by concentrating on breathing deep and relaxing your body.
- Go Easy on the Technology
Technology can help us to stay connected with family and friends, but it can also turn into an obligation. When you find yourself dreading that next notification, consider pulling back on your technology usage. Replace your digital habits with low-stress relaxation activities like reading, walking and meditating.
- Eat Well
Like sleep, eating well is essential to reducing your stress level. Start your day with a good breakfast that will fuel your body for the day ahead. Throughout the day, incorporate healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables. Be sure to eat plenty of protein, few refined sugars, and minimal caffeine and alcohol.
- Make Yourself Happy
Whether it’s fishing, playing music or taking pictures, do the things that you enjoy, and do them for yourself. Don’t worry about how you compare with anyone else. Just do them because you like to do them. This is a fantastic way to reduce stress and send yourself the message that you care about yourself.
- Make Others Happy
Find ways to help others. Whether it be volunteering or simply making it a point to say something nice to someone else, taking the time to focus on others is a great way to reduce stress.
As you can tell, many of these changes are interconnected. For example, when you practice good nutrition you’ll sleep better and therefore experience less stress.
How Concierge Medicine Helps Reduce Stress
Medical situations can be stressful. You never know when, due to sickness or emergency, you may need to see a physician. And when that happens, simply scheduling an appointment can be taxing.
With concierge medical practices, you can do away with these stresses. PartnerMD offers same- or next-day appointments and can help you deal with issues before they create stress.
Not only does PartnerMD fit easily into your schedule, but they work hard to build quality relationships with their patients. Since PartnerMD physicians have more time with their patients during appointments, they develop a comprehensive understanding of their patients’ health and an understanding for what they are like in times of typical stress, so they can help their patients determine when they are experiencing unusual levels of stress.