What is stress and what are its effects?
The World Health Organization (WHO) definition of stress encompasses any change that results in physical, emotional or psychological tiredness. As outlined by the WHO, stress represents an innate reaction of the human body to situations that demand agile responses¹.
Stress is a bodily response to sudden or threatening stimuli. In reaction to these circumstances, the body releases hormones such as adrenaline, inducing a state of alert that prepares the individual to react. These hormones spread quickly throughout the body’s cells, generating effects such as increased heart and respiratory rates, known as the “fight or flight reaction”. Various factors, such as traffic, personal problems, illnesses and other situations, make our body produce an excess of two hormones, Adrenaline and Cortisol. Stress varies in its manifestations and can be related to symptoms of different diseases. Frequent signs include headache, sleep disturbances, difficulty focusing, irritability, gastrointestinal problems, professional dissatisfaction, low morale, depression and anxiety².
Prolonged exposure to chronic stress can result in lasting complications for the cardiovascular system, increasing the likelihood of developing high blood pressure, heart attacks or strokes¹.
What are the benefits of Stress Reduction?
Relaxing is a way to reduce stress and prevent it from becoming chronic, which helps prevent illnesses, increases emotional well-being and improves quality of life.
Below are some benefits of reducing stress in your daily life:
- Improves heart health: Just like inadequate nutrition and lack of physical activity, stress is also a risk element associated with hypertension and cardiovascular problems, so remaining relaxed will bring several benefits such as regulating the heart rate, contributing to the preservation of health. heart health;
- Improved productivity: If you notice that stress, anxiety and agitation are gradually harming your productivity throughout the day, this is a clear indication that you need to take a break. Contrary to what many believe, periods of relaxation also have productive value. They not only contribute to physical and mental health, but can also boost efficiency, resulting in an improvement in productivity.
- Improves mood: The practice of relaxation, as well as physical exercise and other pleasurable activities, has the power to prevent and counteract the effects of stress, as it stimulates the release of endorphins – neurotransmitters responsible for the feeling of contentment;
- Reduces the risk of Depression: The prolonged presence of cortisol (the stress hormone) in our body can result in a decrease in serotonin and dopamine levels – substances whose shortage is linked to depression. A comprehensive analysis of several studies that investigated the effects of cortisol in various situations found that relaxation massages induce increased levels of serotonin and dopamine;
- Strengthens immunity: Stressful days are also a danger to your health, as chronic stress can affect the immune system, while reducing it can strengthen the body’s ability to fight disease.
- Reduces muscle tension and relieves chronic pain: Stress causes increased tension in the muscles. This, in turn, contributes to chronic pain. Relaxation practice is effective in reducing muscle tension, reducing cortisol levels, relaxing muscles and promoting a feeling of well-being;
10 Tips to reduce stress:
To alleviate stress, it is important to reduce external pressures, finding alternatives so that work, study and activities in your personal life can be carried out more calmly.
Below we have some tips that will help you reduce stress in your daily life:
- Get out of a sedentary lifestyle: Starting the stress reduction journey involves abandoning a sedentary lifestyle as a primary step. This is due to the fact that physical activity helps reduce the release of cortisol in stressful situations and, additionally, promotes the secretion of endorphins into the bloodstream, the hormone linked to well-being. It is recommended to dedicate at least 30 minutes a day to physical exercise, prioritizing aerobic activities, such as walking, running and cycling. Joining a gym is also a viable option for establishing an exercise routine;
- Enjoy nature: Exploring natural environments and spending time outdoors can help reduce stress, improve mood and intensify feelings of joy and well-being. Studies highlight numerous health gains from contact with nature and proximity to green areas has been linked to reduced stress and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Avoid pessimism: Both optimism and pessimism have the power to influence stress levels. Negative events can be less stressful when faced in a conscious and understanding way, recognizing the lack of control over everything, but still maintaining the belief that the event will not happen again. Likewise, positive events become more rewarding by being seen as indicators of positive things to come and by feeling like the author of your own destiny. The discrepancy in attitudes is reflected in behavior. Those who regularly cultivate positive thinking generally achieve greater success, which can culminate in a life less permeated by stress.
- Don’t forget to rest: Physical and mental fatigue is one of the triggers of stress and anxiety. Therefore, setting aside time for adequate rest each night is a vital tool for relieving stress. Using the weekends as an opportunity to relax and recharge can also be beneficial. However, if these periods do not have enough effect, it may be necessary to consider vacation breaks every quarter, in places of your choice, where you can rest peacefully.
- Take care of your diet: Adopting a balanced diet increases the body’s ability to respond to stress. Foods rich in Omega 3, such as chia seeds, salmon and trout, promote the functioning of the nervous system by counteracting mental exhaustion. Nuts, peanuts and bananas also contribute to the feeling of well-being. In everyday life, opting for a healthy diet, incorporating fruits, vegetables and sources of protein, is recommended. Establishing adequate meal times is important to avoid irritability caused by hunger.
- Avoid caffeine: High doses of caffeine have the potential to raise cortisol levels and accentuate the impacts of stress on the body. It’s crucial to be aware of how your body reacts to caffeine. You may need to reduce your consumption of caffeinated products or explore alternatives such as herbal teas, especially if you are experiencing stress.
- Meditate: The practice of meditation plays a role in purifying the mind, allowing the person to focus internally and find more serenity. Among the recommended meditation modalities, full attention, or Mindfulness, stands out, which cultivates awareness in relation to thoughts, feelings and sensations. Meditation is an accessible activity: simply select a quiet environment to avoid interruptions, sit comfortably, close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Direct your attention to your bodily sensations and breathing movements for a period of five to ten minutes daily.
- Yoga practice: There are several forms of yoga, but they all share the fundamental principle of concentration. This makes this practice highly effective in reducing stress. Breathing, which is central to all types of yoga, has a direct relationship with the nervous system – an additional aspect that establishes the link between this practice and the management of nervousness. Through breathing, it is possible to calm or stimulate the nervous system as needed. Over time, the body assimilates the ability to return to calm even in stressful situations.
- Find a hobby you enjoy: This could involve playing a musical instrument, painting, cooking, or interacting with your family or pet. Engaging in activities that distance you from everyday worries will bring feelings of well-being and will be a beneficial approach to reducing stress levels;
- Manage time better: Another highly effective approach to coping with stress involves improving time management by establishing tasks, goals and priorities.
The post Care for Life.