Moderating Stress Requires Knowing Its Sources

Stress. It would seem that its presence in our lives is a given. Even still, that doesn’t mean you have to yield to its effects without recourse.

Why the concern about stress? Because, we can’t escape its effects on our bodies and our health.

Chronic exposure to stress puts you at higher risk of anxiety or depression, cardiovascular disease, sleep disturbances, weight fluctuation, cognitive impairment, poor digestion, and higher susceptibility to illness. A downhill slide that won’t be corrected by a pill.

There are a variety of stressors that can individually contribute to any of these conditions, and in greater strength when several stressors are at play. The first step in curbing the stress in your life is awareness. Let’s look at common stressors – both internal and external – and simple ways you can curb their effects.

Internal Stressors
Blood sugar fluctuation – plan your day with food in mind so that you don’t allow more than 3.5 hours between eating. Have emergency snacks with you that are not grain- or flour-based but include healthy fat and protein with fruit, vegetables, and nuts.
Irregular sleeping patterns – explore sleep hygiene tips online and adjust your bedtime habits. Consider changing your alarm clock to one that provides sleep sounds and lulls you out of sleep without the traditional alarm sound. I use a Zenergy Dream.
Physical inactivity – don’t just move at the gym. Include simple movement at several intervals in your day – chair yoga, stretching, a walk around your office, are just a few options.

External Stressors
Commuting – if you have a long drive or are often in the midst of heavy traffic, you may find this part of your work day adds stress. Consider listening to a calming music playlist, inspiring podcasts, or meditation tracks on iTunes.
Opening bills – can be frustrating for all of us. Create an enjoyable ritual – lighting candles and playing music – while you open envelopes. If finances are a concern, seek help in learning to budget, set financial goals, and improve money management.
Difficult relationships – set the intention before spending time with them to not take things they say personally. Set boundaries with the individual(s) who cause you to feel hurt and depleted.
Work demands – though your inclination may be to keep your nose to the grindstone, taking a few minutes’ break for physical movement each hour will refresh your brain and actually help you function at higher capacity.

There are likely several stressors playing a part in your life. Taking steps to identify them and reduce their effects on your body and emotions will be valuable in your journey toward health. Prioritizing yourself and taking time to make adjustments can shift your body out of a steady perception of “fight or flight” situations to allow your digestive system to function better and thereby promote greater absorption of the nutrients you consume.

What adjustments are you going to make to reduce stress in your life?

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