Everyone experiences stress at some point, but left unchecked, it can have serious consequences on our health, relationships, jobs and overall wellbeing. Long-term stress can lead to a wide range of illnesses—from headaches to stomach disorders —and can increase the risk of serious conditions like stroke and heart disease.
In recognition of National Stress Awareness Month, which took place in April, and Mental Health Month in May, here are five resources to help you understand how stress affects your body and mind – and how to better manage it.
Know the Warning Signs of Stress and How to Manage It
Stress is a natural psychological and physical reaction to the demands of life. Our brains are hardwired to alert us when there is a perceived threat, which signals our bodies to release hormones and increase our heart rate and blood pressure. Knowing your signs of stress and how you respond may help you manage stress better.
The Link Between Stress and Heart Disease
There are many health and lifestyle factors that can increase the risk of developing heart disease and stress is one of them. According to The American Heart Association, stress can lead to physical problems like high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Stress can also play a role when people adopt unhealthy habits like smoking, physical inactivity and overeating.
All Stress is Not Created Equal
There are four different kinds of stress: acute stress, chronic stress, distress and eustress, which actually has positive connotations. It’s important to be able to identify these different types of stress and know how they affect your mind and body.
Six Myths About Stress
The American Psychological Association has identified six common myths about stress. Understanding these misconceptions (including that stress is always bad for you) can motivate you to take action and improve your overall wellbeing.
Healthy Ways to Cope
Managing life’s stressors is an ongoing challenge, but once you master some coping techniques it can be easier to live a balanced life. A healthy diet, along with regular exercise and sufficient sleep can drastically reduce stress. Being mindful of stressful triggers is also an important management technique and can lead to better overall health.