Health Insider Update


How to Overcome Stress

How to Overcome Stress
September 20
13:37 2015

Stress is one of the most negative, yet preventable, factors regarding your overall health. Stress can lead to weight gain, premature aging, and a host of other problems. Keep reading to learn how you can decrease the amount of stress in your life. 

First, let’s identify two big factors that can cause or worsen your stress level: lack of sleep and worry. Lack of sleep often coincides with stress and both can affect your mood and emotions. Studies show that inadequate sleep reduces the psychological threshold for your body’s perception of stress. In other words, you’ll be stressed easier and quicker when you aren’t getting enough sleep. And you’ll be grumpy.

Worry is the single biggest cause of stress. Sometimes we have a real reason to worry, but more often than not we don’t. No matter what it is that’s stressing you out, there is one easy ritual that can help: writing.

We suggest spending at least 15 minutes at the beginning of the week (Sunday or Monday) writing (or typing) out your thoughts and feelings. It could be a notebook, a blog, or even the back of a shopping list. Instead of writing a to-do list, write down what you are worrying about. When you’re finished, you can step back and look at the list from an objective point of view.

WritingOn another page, write out what you want your life to look like one week in the future. Be realistic.
On a third page, make a list of actions that will help you achieve the things you wrote on page 2. Again, be realistic. If one of your worries was that you had gained 5 pounds and one of your hopes was to lose 2 pounds by the end of the week, write down actions that will help you achieve that goal, i.e. limit alcohol to Saturday nights and eat one carb-free meal each day. Don’t just write lose 2 pounds.

When you’re finished, keep the third page in a handy place and file away the worries and the hopes. Now you have a list of actions that will help guide your week and reduce stress!

Social Media

You may have been led to think that too much time on Facebook is bad for your health, but a new study shows that social media can actually decrease stress.

A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center and Rutgers University revealed that women who spent lots of time online and using social media (email, Twitter, text messaging, etc.) had stress levels more than 20% lower than less-connected women.

“We assumed we’d find that these technologies were somehow related to more stress, but that’s not really the case,” said lead study author Keith Hampton, PhD.

It seems that the act of sharing mundane happenings with others is good for your health. It really does make sense if you think about it: sending a cute message or funny picture to a friend doesn’t cost a lot, doesn’t take much time, and connects you with others. Hampton suggests that technology users feel like they have a support system and are better equipped to handle their daily demands, such as balancing work, school, and social life.

There is one catch: social media can increase a person’s stress from outside sources (social stress). For example, you’re scrolling through Facebook when a message from your cousin pops up at the bottom of your screen: “I’m getting a divorce.” This message causes you to worry about your cousin, which ups your anxiety. “When you’re aware of these unfortunate things happening in other people’s lives, there a cost – the cost of caring,” said Hampton.

Conversely, hearing bad news from someone you hardly know may make you feel better because you realize your life isn’t as bad as his. This feeling is called schadenfreude.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, here are a few things you can do to reduce the amount of cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body:
• Spend time in a quiet green space (like a park)
• Meditate
• Listen to music
• Drink black tea
• Go to bed early or take a nap
• Get a massage
• Spend time with someone who can make you laugh

We encourage you to try these suggestions, along with the writing method described above, to decrease the amount of stress in your life. Please share your experiences with us in the comment section below!


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April Kuhlman

April Kuhlman

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