As the world becomes more chaotic, stress management is more important than ever for maintaining good health. Here are some of the top reasons to make stress management a priority and effective ways to improve it.
What is Stress Management?
Stress management consists of identifying the stressors in your life and creating a plan or strategy to manage that stress. Keeping stress levels in check increases the ability to live a more balanced and healthier life.
What Are the Dangers of Chronic Stress?
If left unchecked, stress can become a chronic, long-term problem. Common symptoms of chronic stress include the following:
- Digestive issues
- Changes in appetite
- Perceived loss of control
- Decreased sex drive
- Recurring illness or infections
If left untreated, chronic stress can increase the risk of illness and disease. Studies have linked the following health issues to stress and inflammation: cancer, depression, anxiety disorders, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. 
Top Stress Management Treatments
Stress management consists of various techniques to control stress levels and improve a person’s ability to function. Here are some of the most popular stress management techniques:
Identity Your Stress Triggers
Understanding what causes your stress is the first step to managing it. The most common stress triggers are the following:
- Death of a family member
Ideally, removing the stress trigger is the best way to eliminate stress, but that’s not always possible. However, by knowing what causes your stress, you can take the appropriate steps to try and decrease its effects.
A person’s breathing patterns can be affected by feelings of anxiety and other environmental stressors. If left unchecked, shallow breathing could increase feelings of anxiety and cause panic attacks.
Deep breathing exercises can improve mood, decrease stress and heart rate, and decrease salivary cortisol levels in test subjects.  High cortisol levels caused by long-term stress can increase the risk of various health issues, including high blood pressure, weight gain, and premature aging.
A popular form of deep breathing is diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing:
- Sit comfortably in a chair or lie down with a pillow under your head and another pillow under your knees
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach, below the ribcage
- Relax and slowly breathe in through your nose. Feel your stomach rise as you inhale
- Exhale slowly through your mouth, lips slightly pursed. Your chest should remain still as you feel your stomach lower. Repeat
- Perform this exercise 5-10 times per day
Note: the exhale should be two to three times longer than your inhale.
Drink More Water
Stress can increase both heart rate and heavy breathing. This increased heart rate can result in more fluid loss through respiration, increasing the risk of dehydration. Problems can be magnified if people forget to drink liquids when feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
Ironically, dehydration and stress have similar symptoms, including fatigue, headache, increased heart rate, etc. Mild dehydration increased tension, anxiety, fatigue, and working memory in male test subjects.  As a result, drinking water while feeling stressed could help lessen the harmful effects of stress on the body.
Go Outside (Enjoy Nature)
Taking a walk outside in nature is believed to help improve mood. Exposure to nature can reduce stress by lowering cortisol levels, decreasing blood pressure, and easing muscle tension. 
Another benefit of going outside is exposure to sunlight, which can help boost vitamin D levels: preliminary studies indicate a vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders. 
Yoga has been practiced for centuries to improve the mind and body. Yoga helps with blood circulation, stimulates deep breathing, and increases relaxation. Studies on yoga have shown that ancient exercise was associated with reduced evening cortisol, waking cortisol, fasting blood glucose, resting heart rate, and high-frequency heart rate variability. 
The following yoga poses help can relieve feelings of stress and anxiety:
- Tree pose
- Child’s pose
- Standing forward bend
- Head to knee forward bend
- Bridge pose
Chronic stress can increase the risk of digestive issues, which could impact nutrient absorption. For some, eating comfort foods helps them relieve stress, but many comfort foods and drinks are high in sugar, fat, artificial flavors, and other harmful ingredients. Instead of helping ease stress, these foods do more harm than good, increasing the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, and other health issues.
In addition, an increase of serotonergic neurons occurs in the brain during times of stress. An imbalance in these neurons could hurt other neurotransmitters, decreasing the body’s ability to handle stress.
Here are some of the best and worst foods to eat for stress:
Best Foods to Eat For Stress
Worst Foods to Eat For Stress
Green leafy veggies
Processed foods/processed meats
Fast food/ fried food
Vitamin C rich fruits
High fructose corn syrup
In addition to the treatments listed above, supplements can be used to manage stress as well:
Systematic Formulas: #406 -Calm-Stress Relief and Mood Support is specifically designed to help promote feelings of calmness during times of stress. This is accomplished by supporting the neurotransmitters that help calm the nerves, which include dopamine and serotonin. In addition, this product supports a positive mood by providing the body with the nutrients needed to promote healthy methylation, a chemical reaction that occurs in every cell and tissue in the body.
Systematic Formulas: #406 -Calm-Stress Relief and Mood Support is 100% natural and contains the following ingredients:
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B6
- Herbalomics Mood Support
This product contains no artificial colors, ingredients, or preservatives.
DesBio - PTS/Stress Remedy provides temporary relief from various symptoms of stress, including the following:
- Post-traumatic stress
- Fight or flight
- Recurring nightmares
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
DesBio - PTS/Stress Remedy is homeopathic and contains all- natural ingredients. Recommended dosages are 1-10 drops under the tongue, 2 times per day or as directed by your health care professional.
Klaire Labs - Cortisol Management contains Relora® and Sensoril®, two patented stress management ingredients that help protect the body against high levels of cortisol caused by stress. Increased cortisol levels caused by stress could weaken the immune system and impair several brain functions, including thinking and memory.
If left unchecked, stress can increase the risk for a variety of health problems, including weight gain, high blood pressure, headaches and insomnia. Knowing your stress triggers and discovering the best ways to manage stress is essential to maintaining good health. How do you handle stress? Leave your tips in a comment below!
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