When I began researching this topic, I went into this with (honestly) a very myopic viewpoint. My eyes were immediately opened when I learned that April as Stress Awareness Month has been around since 1992.
Why did Stress Awareness become a 30-day focus?
Health care professionals have joined forces with marketing experts to raise awareness of stress and how it impacts the body. “… The Health Resource Network (HRN), a non-profit health education organization, Stress Awareness Month is a national, cooperative effort to inform people about the dangers of stress, successful coping strategies, and harmful misconceptions about stress that are prevalent in our society.” Roughly 50 years ago, stress became a topic found in medical writings. Today, if we had a penny for every time we see, hear, or say the word stress, we would all be millionaires.
Stress affects the body
We all know that stress can negatively impact our body. Below is a list of side effects that you may not be aware of:
- “Did you know that stress can cause your allergies to go into hyperdrive? Stress can worsen the symptoms of allergies”.1
- Stress puts you at a higher risk for periodontal disease. “Stress wreaks havoc on your body, this much we know, and with a weakened immune system in particular it increases the risk of infection. This gives bacteria a better opportunity to infect gums, which can result in bleeding and disease.”1
- Stress can slow your recovery from a workout.3
- Stress triggers hair loss. 3
Do we create our own stress?
As I type I have a headache from stress but the act of focusing on something other than my pain is actually helping. Hans Selye, who researched and wrote extensively on the topic of stress said “Stress, in addition to being itself, was also the cause of itself, and the result of itself”.4
Interesting right? We stress ourselves out at times and that is unfortunately very common. However, noticing those moments, stressors, or surroundings is key in attacking the root of the problem. Make a stress journal to record the instance, the feelings, and the reaction. Review the journal and you may begin to see a pattern you can address or work with a professional to address.
If writing is not your thing, then try other alternative ways to work through the stressors and eliminate them. We have heard so many people say stop saying you are “so busy” all the time. By repeatedly saying we are so busy, we worry our selves into a busy mess. The repetitive use of busy sends stressor like signals to the brain and creates a negative reaction. Same goes for the word stressed. How many times have you heard someone say “oh this stresses me out!” when pertaining to everyday life events.
In some cases, we may not have to say these words out loud in order for them to have an impact on our being. Words are very powerful even when they are said internally. Another trick I know I have used when my daughter says or does something aggravating, stop and count to 10 while making yourself smile. 99% of the time that little trick keeps me from yelling at my child and getting stressed because of the situation, stressed because I yelled (again), stressed because I made her cry … you all have been there. See how many times I used the word stress? We put so much pressure on ourselves.
Taking care of yourself
We must stop and at least take some time for ourselves. This week while at the chiropractor for my daughter’s digestive issues, the chiropractor asked if I ever see a doctor, chiropractor or get massages regularly. My answer was no, of course. I must get my daughter better before I can do anything for myself. She, Dr. Staci of Life Redefined Chiropractic, reminded me that it’s ok to take care of ourselves as we always seem to neglect ourselves. My sweet daughter looked up at me and said in the cutest voice “Yea, Mommy you have to take care of yourself too!”. Both are correct. Seeing a chiropractor is on many lists of ways to reduce stress. Let your body heal itself by being aligned properly. There are internal stressors that resonate outwards when our body is not working properly.
In short, you are the only person you can control. Find tools that fit your personality to tackle stress when it comes your way. Start with easy tips and tricks that you can use daily, then stick to them. As you get better, you can change your game plan. There is no easy button or quick fix but you just have to take the first step.
You cannot eliminate stress and some stress can be good for you.
We got this, even when it seems like there is no hope, we got this!
- Hans Selye: Birth of Stress www.stress.org