Stress is a normal part of life and can serve a useful purpose. For example, it can motivate you to get that promotion at work, push through to finish the last mile of a marathon, or make you alert enough to read subtle body language and successfully navigate conflict with a coworker. While these are some of the positive things that stress can do for you, long-term stress can seriously interfere with your job, family life, and health. We’ll take a look at some of the common causes of stress, as well as some of the steps you can take to find relief and better manage the stress in your life.
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The death of a loved one can cause secondary loss after secondary loss as you adjust to a life that looks nothing like it used to. This incredible change and shift in your life causes such intense feelings and stress that most people feel ill-equipped to deal with it. Unfortunately, a common source of stress and pain after the death of a loved one is conflict and hurt feelings among friends and family members.
Aside from the obvious stress of wondering how to meet your financial obligations when you’ve lost a job, you might also experience strong mood swings, difficulties in your relationships, and stress in your overall mental and emotional health. A job does more than offer a way of living for most people, it also impacts how you see yourself, how others see you, provides a social outlet, and gives purpose and direction to your life. Losing a job can cause feelings of anger, depression, and sadness, and even cause you to question your identity.
No matter the reason for a move, the process can create incredible levels of stress. The irony is that there is no one cause of stress when it comes to a big move. Rather, a number of smaller issues combine together to create one of the most stressful events you’ll experience in your life. Perhaps some of the most obvious issues revolve around change — change in location, layout and size of home, change in friends, change in jobs. Even when all this change is for the best, the unknown can be scary and cause stress.
Whether you or a loved one is dealing with a chronic illness or injury, it can be incredibly stressful to manage the doctor appointments, medications, and other accommodations required to make life as comfortable as possible. With that, facing the limits on what you are now able to do can be incredibly difficult and cause you to feel anxious or stressed. You may worry about treatment outcomes, changes in your daily life, and the inability to participate in some of your favorite activities.
Getting engaged and married is supposed to be one of the happiest times in your life. So why would it be one of the most common causes of stress? There are actually a number of reasons that getting married could be stressful, including:
From thinking about the seriousness of a lifelong commitment and wondering if there are things about your partner that should change to trying to make many people on both sides of the family happy and more, there are a number of stressors that can arise during this time of your life.
Typically, the one left behind in a divorce is immediately sent into a tailspin of grief and swings back and forth between feelings of shock, intense sadness, anger, and love and longing for the spouse. Whether you were the one who initiated the divorce or was notified that your spouse intends to file for divorce, you will likely experience grief over the loss of the marriage. While divorce itself is a single event, legally speaking, it is experienced as a chain of events in terms of changes in friends, relationships, homes, and more.
Eating balanced meals each day helps to reduce the negative impact that stress can have on your body. A healthy diet helps to reduce oxidation and inflammation, which in turn helps to reduce weight gain. Stress has been shown to negatively affect blood pressure and flow. Since there is a strong relationship between fluctuations in the flow of blood to the brain and brain health, you can understand the importance of maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Nutrients found in foods like nuts, fruits, and vegetables can help improve blood flow in the body.
Sleep is a powerful stress reducer, as it calms and restores the body, improves concentration, regulates mood, and sharpens your decision-making abilities. When you’ve had a good night of rest, you’re more able to solve problems and cope with stress. The average adult requires seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Creating a nightly routine to help your body and mind relax and sleep well is essential to getting the deep sleep you need. Interrupted sleep can increase stress, reduce your quality of life, and put you at greater risk for developing mental health struggles such as depression
Overuse of coffee and alcohol can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and stress, as they both directly impact sleep. As we’ve mentioned, cortisol is a stress hormone, and caffeine can elevate the cortisol levels in your body. Additionally, drinking large amounts of alcohol can also release higher amounts of cortisol. When the cortisol in your body is out of balance, it impacts the way you perceive stress and how you respond to it.
No matter how you prefer to take breaks, creating space that allows you to unplug and unwind is an essential step in managing and reducing stress. Getting outside and enjoying time in a natural environment has been linked to stress reduction. Time in green spaces has been shown to significantly reduce cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Nature also boosts your endorphin levels and dopamine production, which promote happiness.
Talking to a friend or family member about what you are feeling can help in a number of ways. You’ll be able to share your feelings of stress, which will lessen the burden you’ve been carrying. They can give you advice and support, which will help you to realize you’re not alone. If you’re struggling with something you cannot fix either on your own or with help, be sure to reach out to a doctor or therapist for professional help.
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