First, let’s talk about what stress is. Stress, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension”. The truth is that we all encounter stress on a daily basis. It can be internal, caused by an illness or medical procedures. Or it can be external, brought on by the environment, psychological or social situations. Regardless of the trigger, stress always sends your body into a fight or flight response. Left unmanaged, the bodily or mental tension it creates compounds over time and may become “a factor in disease causation”.
Some of the most common medical conditions caused by stress include:
- Poor healing
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- High blood pressure
- Poorly controlled diabetes
- And many other conditions
The good news is there are steps we all can take to help manage stress so it does not control our lives. Here are a few tips to help reduce stress, promote immune health, and live a happier, healthier life.
3 Tips to Reduce Chemical Stress
Chemical stress is probably one of the easiest to manage because it deals with what you put into your body. Here are my top three tips for reducing chemical stress.
- Reduce the amount of white refined carbs in your diet. These cause added inflammation in your system which, when combined with other stresses, is similar to an army fighting two fronts.
- Increase your intake of colorful fruits and veggies. These provide healthy, stress-fighting antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory. Many fruits and vegetables are also magnesium-rich, which also reduces stress.
- Add supplementation like Vitamin C and Vitamin B Complex to your already healthy diet. I recommend Aceva products to my patients because they use high-quality ingredients and their formulations are clinically researched. Individual needs do vary however, so talk with your doctor to find what is right for you.
3 Tips To Reduce Physical Stress
Physical stress is also fairly easy to manage because you can create a list of actionable items to do to help you reduce stress. Here are my top 3 tips for managing physical stress.
- Exercise daily. Aim for 10,000 steps or do Zumba video. The key is to just have fun and enjoy it!
- Get consistent sleep. Try to keep to your regular sleep schedule and follow your bedtime routines.
- Have fun! Make it a priority to do hobbies or activities you enjoy. This could include learning a new hobby like a musical instrument, an art technique or woodworking. Or it can be something you’ve always loved doing, like making healthy meals for your friends and family.
3 Tips To Reduce Emotional Stress
Emotional stress management may be the toughest for some of us to reduce, but with practice we can all make small strides toward our overall health goals. Just remember that everyone experiences stress and your leading example may just be what someone needs to jumpstart their own process to stress management.
Here are my top three tips for reducing emotional stress.
- Create and master a morning routine. Some of the most successful people in the world do this. Just read what Admiral William H. McRaven has to say on the subject in his book Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World!
- Keep talking. Express your feelings with a trusted person in your life.
- Make sure to practice gratitude. Smile, it works. Plus it’s contagious (in a good kind of way). Try it out and see how many people you can make smile in a day, just by sharing your own.
Unmanaged Stress Can Affect Your Overall Health
Bear in mind uncontrolled stress may be a component to the beginning of disease in your body. Chronic stress WILL decrease your white blood cell count (the little soldiers that fight infections like viruses, bacteria, and other illnesses inside your body). Chronic stress also leads to inflammation and increases the amount of cortisol in your body which reduces the immune system’s ability to battle infections.
Take a minute and evaluate the stress in your life to see which direction you are heading and what you can do to begin to move toward your highest level of wellness possible.
Disclaimer: This article discusses the physical effects of stress on the body. Please know that when dealing with stress, if it ever feels like the stress is getting out of hand, contact a professional that you can talk to as soon as possible.