The root of all illness is found in stress. And, not just emotional stress, as most might assume. Stress of all kinds, including physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, etc, can lead to sickness within the body. For this reason, effective stress management is a key player in overall health.
The Effects of Stress on Your Health
If stress is the root of all illness, it sure has a powerful and influential impact on our health. Fundamentally, stress, of any kind, creates inflammation within the body. Inflammation is directly linked to chronic disease, like metabolic disease, cancer, and heart disease.
Think about it: when you’ve had a stressful day at work, you’ll likely leave the office with a headache and a strong urge to take a nap. Or, consider the physical impacts (AKA stress) of a fender bender. Even if not physically injured, it will leave you feeling exhausted, mentally and physically. Finally, when was the last time you scarfed down a Big Mac and XL side of fries? I’m willing to bet you didn’t feel prepared to run a marathon after. No! You probably spent the afternoon with a stomach ache and bottle of Tums. These situations are examples of “acute stress.” In other words, they are immediate and short-lived. However, when acute stress occurs day after day, you end up with “chronic stress.”
Chronic stress can quickly result in subpar health and bodily function. It drains your energy levels, nutrient stores, and mental capacity. Before you know it, the effects of stress create unwanted physical and mental symptoms, including headaches, brain fog, fatigue, insomnia, and more. In some cases, chronic stress ultimately leads to chronic disease, like cardiovascular or metabolic.
That said, it’s possible to prevent, halt, and reverse the effects of chronic stress. The first step in fighting chronic stress is to address the source!
Common Sources of Stress
In our fast-paced, digital, and highly processed world, stress is easy to come by. Here is the short list of common stress sources found today:
- Processed foods
- Trans fat
- Excess alcohol
- Toxic relationships
- Sedentary lifestyle
Again, this is just the short list. And, it’s important to be introspective and aware of what causes you stress. Once you identify your unique stressors, you can start to successfully manage your stress.
How to Manage Stress for Better Health
Clearly, stress management is necessary for a healthy mind and body. To effectively manage stress, start by asking yourself a few questions:
- What is in my control?
- What is out of my control?
- Will worrying right now change anything?
From there you can utilize these six coping methods to manage stress:
Meditating daily is a great way to calm the mind, refocus, and recharge. It brings stillness to a busy world. Try meditating for 10-20 minutes a day, preferably in the morning hours or when you feel stress coming on.
Physical movement and exercise is a beneficial stress reliever. Some of the best exercises for stress relief include: yoga, kickboxing, outdoor activities (hiking, running, walking), dancing, or strength training. Find what you enjoy and make it a priority during times of stress.
Prioritizing self care can be a game-changer for stress management. When we’re often so busy and on-the-go, it’s easy to neglect our own physical and mental needs. By allowing daily time to meet your own needs, you can drastically reduce overall stress levels. Learn more about my favorite self care techniques, here.
Clutter and chaos naturally creates stress, whether consciously or subconsciously. Make it a goal to organize your living space. Pick up the clutter and find a home for each of your belongings. Working, eating, sleeping, and playing in a clean, organized space makes the world of a difference.
There’s no doubt that finances are a major cause of stress in America, today. If finances are a source of stress for you, make a plan. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when it comes to putting your finances in order.
- Time Management
There’s nothing worse than rushing to get out the door. Talk about stress overload! Learn to manage your time better to prevent moments of sheer chaos. I recommend using block scheduling to manage your time successfully.
If stress is the root of all sickness, there’s no doubt we should do whatever it takes to minimize the stressors out of our control and eliminate the ones within our control. Through awareness, reflection, and effective stress management techniques, we can get a handle on the stress in our lives and reap the health benefit in return!