Stress is a part and parcel of life. It’s our body’s instinctive reaction to certain situations, like public speaking for example. However, when this anxiety and stress become a regular occurrence, danger bells should ring. Anxiety is when a person continuously worries about everyday things and has uncontrollable and unrealistic amounts of stress about ordinary stuff. Stressful situations trigger a flight or fight response in the body. As a result, the body undergoes changes like increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and increased sweating. In the aftermath of the stress episode, the person feels exhausted, weak and hot. This is not a normal state of the body, and such common disruptions are not good for it.
Moreover, anxiety can lead to mental illnesses like depression. High-stress levels can cause an increase in the risk of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, heart diseases and obesity etc. It is therefore vital to take steps to manage one’s stress levels to live a healthy life. Below are some principles to help cope with stress.
Manage your stress levels
There are certain situations that make one more prone to experiencing stress. Everyone has a different trigger. It is important then to identify the things that cause stress. Write them down and analyze these. Eliminate all that you can. For example, if your time on social media is affecting your mental well-being, stop using those sites. If work is causing anxiety, ask for help. Take less responsibility. YOUR mental health is the most important thing!
Have physical contact
Intimate physical contact like hugging, kissing, cuddling and sex actually helps lower stress hormone levels. Pleasurable physical contact releases the ‘good’ hormone, oxytocin. However, for some people, physical touch can be a source of anxiety. They not only avoid getting touched but touching others is stressful for them too. Moreover, it is especially detrimental for married people as their marital life suffers as well. They do not derive pleasure from intimate contact, which has an adverse effect on their relationship, adding onto their anxieties.
Due to the potential psychological impact of this social anxiety, it is best to consult a medical professional for it. There are many sexologists who help people cope with social and performance anxieties, like Dr Samra Amin. No one should have to suffer in silence, especially when the cure is possible.
Do breathing exercises
A consequence of high-stress level is breathing rapidly and having tense muscles, as the body presumes itself to be under threat. Breathing exercise hence regulates the heart rate. Moreover, research has shown that coherent breathing helps during stressful situations. Breathing at a rate of around 5 breaths per minute reduces stress and anxiety in the body. It also helps prevent depression and sleeping disorders.
A body that is physically fit is better able to fight stress. Regular exercise helps the body have a higher tolerance for stress and lowers the cortisol-stress hormone-levels. As a result, the side-effects of stress have a lesser impact on the body. Physical exertions also help prevent the negative influence of stress on the immune system. Exercise also improves focus. It causes the release of endorphins, which lead to a feeling of positivity in the body.
Healthy eating is necessary to have a healthy body and mind. Hence, it is important to eat a well-balanced diet and not skip meals. People suffering from stress are more prone to metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, therefore, it is even more important for them to eat well. Avoid food with high sugar and fat content. Incorporate foods that help lower stress levels like eggs, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate etc.
Stress takes a toll on the body, which then needs sufficient sleep to recover. Therefore, getting a proper eight hours of sleep is essential. Best practice to help with sleeping routine is to have a fixed bedtime. Also, you should not consume caffeine prior to bedtime or use screens. Anything that can disrupt sleep should be avoided when in bed.
Get Social Support
Talk to your friends and family about your anxieties and stress. It can be a cathartic exercise. They can help you have some perspective. Furthermore, having a network of friends helps with self-worth. A research showed that spending time with family helped release oxytocin, which helps relieve stress.
Change your thinking
It is important to have a positive outlook in order to avoid stress. Most of the anxiety episodes result from negativity. People suffering from anxiety always set themselves up for failure. Hence, it is extremely necessary to consciously think positively regarding everything.
Add humour to your life
Laughing is a great way to get rid of stress. It also helps relax the tense muscles. Furthermore, laughing helps with an uplifting mood, and improving the immune system. Hence, not only does laughter help destress, but also undo the side-effects of stress. Add humour by watching funny shows, or perhaps hang out more with people who keep you happy and laughing.
It is very likely that despite these steps, one suffers from anxiety regardless. For people who are having a hard time managing their stress levels, consulting a doctor might be necessary. Hameed Latif hospital Lahore has an excellent panel of psychiatrists and psychologists who can help people cope with anxiety and stress, and hence set them up for a healthy and wholesome life.