April is Stress Awareness Month, a global event created in 1992 to help people better understand the health risks associated with stress and how small changes each day can contribute to a happier and healthier life.
What is Stress?
Stress is a biological response to stimulation from an internal or external source that can leave us feeling mentally and physically exhausted, making it difficult to think, stay motivated, or complete tasks.
Internal stress can be caused by:
- Uncertainty over future events
- Negative self-talk
- Perfectionism or unrealistic expectations
- Inflexibility to change
External stress can be caused by:
- Expected or unexpected life changes
- Job or career
- Relationships (family or friends)
- Financial troubles
- Overburdened life schedule
- Environment (noise, temperature, light, comfort)
- Social interactions
It is important to recognize that not all stress is bad. Biologically speaking, stress is a survival tool common to many living creatures. When facing a challenge, stress can motivate you to think faster or fight harder to reach a goal, whether that is during an interview, when taking a test, or to avoid an accident while driving.
For some, stress is a temporary problem that helps you accomplish great things. For others, stress can linger, disrupt your life, and cause serious health problems. Thankfully, for most people, stress may be manageable with a few lifestyle changes and the addition of supportive therapies or medicinal aids. But before you reach that step, you first need to figure out your stress level.
Health Risks Associated With Stress
The best way to figure out your stress level, sometimes referred to as stress IQ, is to self-evaluate your life and consider if you experience mood swings, feel physically or emotionally unwell, or have been through a recent major life change. In addition to this, look for the following common symptoms of stress, including:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain (back, neck, shoulder, mouth)
- Gut problems
- Poor sleep quality
- Relationship problems
- Weight gain or loss
These symptoms can have many impacts on your life. From making you feel less satisfied overall to distracting you from the activities you once loved. More than that, if left unchecked, stress may contribute to one of several health problems. These can range from mild to life threatening, including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Weakened or damaged Immune function
- Skin problems
- Gut disorders
- Psychological challenges (depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, PTSD)
Hopefully you now have some sense of whether or not you experience stress in your life. If you still aren’t sure, no problem! In the following section you will learn about how to manage stress. Even if you don’t experience a lot of stress, these suggestions may help you clear your mind and feel better about life.
How To Manage Stress
One of the main ways to manage stress is not to let it impact your life. Easier said than done, right? However, once you recognize where stress is coming from, you can try some of these suggestions and see if they help you.
- Recognize when things are outside of your control.
- Learn to focus your mind to other things when you feel out of control or overwhelmed.
- Change your perspective about where and how you live, set realistic goals, and set in motion a plan to achieve them.
- Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep.
- Yoga, deep breathing, and meditation help balance and strengthen the body against stressor.
- Develop hobbies that help you grow as a person.
- Strike a balance between having a sense of humor and being seriousness.
- Maintain friendships.
If these suggestions don’t work and it becomes too much, seek professional counseling or speak with your doctor to understand if there are underlying health or personal issues that may be the cause of stress in your life.
Stress Support Supplements
Along with looking into conventional therapies, you may find that a supportive aid like the ashwagandha herb or a supplement from Metagenics may help to provide the stress support you need each day.
One of the most popular herbs for stress is ashwagandha. This is thanks to ashwagandha’s adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens help your body and brain to adapt to changes in life, which may help to ease feelings of stress, and to maintain normal levels of cognition and physical activity.
Ashwagandha has also been suggested to support adrenal fatigue, a non-specific condition that may result from overuse of the adrenal glands, which are responsible for creating hormones, including those related to stress. When under constant stress, the adrenal get out of balance and may lead to feelings of discomfort, unhappiness, and low energy or sleep issues to name a few.
Adreset Relief for Stress Related Fatigue and Tran-Q Support for Stress Management from Metagenics are two specially formulated products designed to help the body respond to stress and maintain feelings of energy.
Each of these products use a blend of herbal extracts, mushrooms, roots, seeds, and other compounds from natural sources that work to support the overall balance of the mind and body.
Don’t Wait For Stress To Go Away
There are many things you can start doing today to work towards managing and easing feelings of stress. It’s not impossible so long as you put in the work, talk with a professional when things get too hard, and understand that you’re not the only person whose life is run by stress.