Stressed to the Max? Try This - Part 2
Dear Longevity Insider,
Chronic stress is a major problem in today's society. It has been linked to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, anxiety, and depression. Chronic stress can also make existing health problems worse. The average American today is under more stress than ever before. A recent survey found that nearly half of all Americans report feeling more stressed than they did five years ago.
There are many factors that contribute to chronic stress. A major one is the way we live today. We are constantly bombarded with information and stimuli from a variety of sources (television, the internet, social media, etc.), and we are expected to be available 24/7. This "always-on" lifestyle can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed out.
Another factor that contributes to chronic stress is our culture of achievement. We live in a society that values productivity and success. This pressure to achieve can lead to feelings of inadequacy and stress.
There are also many external factors that can contribute to chronic stress, such as job loss, financial difficulties, relationship problems, and caregiving for a sick family member.
While chronic stress is a major problem, there is good news. There are things you can do to manage your stress effectively. Keep reading to learn more.
5 Tips for Managing Stress
There are many different ways to manage stress effectively. The key is to find what works for you. Some people find that exercise, journaling, and relaxation techniques are helpful. Others find that talking to friends or family, or attending support groups, is helpful. Here are some tips:
- Identify the sources of stress. This may not be so easy, but it's an important first step. Once you know what is causing your stress, you can take steps to address the problem. Some tips to narrow down the source of stress is to try to keep a "stress journal" for a week and take note of what situations or activities trigger stress. Also, pay attention to how you feel physically when you are under stress. Do you get tense muscles, a headache, or stomach problems? Is stress coming from a specific activity? Or is it when you are around certain people? Once you identify the source of stress, you can take steps to avoid it or deal with it more effectively.
- Decipher what you can change and what you cannot. There are some things we can't change, such as a stressful job or a difficult living situation. But there are other things we can change, such as how we deal with stress and our reaction to it. If you find yourself getting stressed out by the same thing over and over again, it's time to make a change. For example, if your commute is always stressful, see if you can carpool with someone or take public transportation. If you're always stressed about money, make a budget and stick to it. Also, reflect on what is within your control. If your job is constantly stressing you out, can you delegate some tasks or set boundaries with your boss? If your work environment is toxic beyond repair and that is causing you stress, it may be time to look for a new job.
- Develop healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with stress. This is important! If you find yourself constantly reaching for unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs, it's time to make a change. These substances may provide temporary relief from stress, but they will ultimately make the problem worse. Instead, try to develop healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and journaling.
- Take care of yourself first. There is a saying I love to share with my patients: "If you don't make time for wellness, you will be forced to make time for illness." This is so true! If we don't take care of ourselves, we will eventually get sick. Make sure to schedule time for yourself every day, even if it's just 10-15 minutes. During this time, do something that makes you happy and relaxes you. This could be reading, taking a bath, going for a walk, or listening to music. Taking care of yourself should be a priority, not an afterthought.
- Seek professional help when it becomes unmanageable. If you find that you are struggling to cope with stress on your own, it may be time to seek professional help. A therapist can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms and address the underlying causes of stress. If you're not sure where to start, ask your doctor for a referral. Your mental health should be a top priority and your healthcare team can help you get the help you need.
While stress is a natural part of life, it should not feel overwhelming. If you find yourself struggling to cope with stress, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Remember, you are not alone. There are people who can and want to help you. And most importantly, take care of yourself first. Make time for things that make you happy and relax you. Your mental and physical health should be a top priority. To your longevity, Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Officer, Longevity Insider HQ
To your longevity,
Anil Bajnath MD