Are you prone to stress or stressful conditions? Do you feel stressed out by the long working hours, busy traffic, home duties, relationship problems and even social events? Does living seem more difficult by the day despite the improved technology and numerous gadgets that are supposed to make our lives easier?

In the unending battle with stress, are you thriving, coping, struggling or simply overwhelmed? Whatever yours is, do not worry. You are not alone. Join me let’s explore stress in its various forms, how it can affect your life and how you can thrive despite the situation.

You may experience stress in any of these ways

  • Acute stress
  • Episodic acute stress
  • Chronic stress

Acute stress

It lasts for a short time. It is often a result of recent unduly demands and pressures or anticipated demands and pressures of the near future. Examples are rushing to meet deadlines, missing a flight etc. It may manifest as feeling angry, anxious or depressed. You may feel stomach pain, back pain, and headaches.

Episodic acute stress

This is an acute stress that occurs more frequently. It depends on the personality type. It often manifests as being over aroused, short-tempered, irritable, anxious, tense, ceaseless worry, and always being in a hurry.

Chronic stress

The stress is almost always there since the source of the stress is long-lasting like dysfunctional families, unhappy marriage, poverty, prolonged war/hostility etc.

Ways stress can affect your life

  • You may develop difficulty in falling and/or staying asleep.
  • Your productivity drops.
  • You may get to a persistent self-reinforcing stress cycle.
  • You may engage in alcohol and drug abuse as a way to cope.
  • You may develop physical diseases like high blood pressure.
  • You may develop mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

You may develop sleeping difficulty.

Stress may affect your sleeping habits. It may be in the form of difficulty in falling asleep or waking up earlier than you wished. This often makes you feel foggy, weak, and restless. Sometimes you may feel sleepy but each time you try to take a nap, you can’t just manage to drift into sleep. Poor sleep will, in turn, worsen the stress.

Your productivity drops.

When you are stressed the following happen: your concentration drops; you lose your creativity; you find it difficult to do your normal duties; you become clumsy, defensive, and reactionary. As a result, your productivity drops. This affects you as a person because it can worsen your condition. It also affects the people around you and cost society a lot too.

You may get to a state of stress vicious cycle.

This is the black hole of stress if it isn't taken care of. It is a self-reinforcing persistently stressed situation.

Stress — Poor sleep — Tiredness and poor performance — Poor results and queries — More worries — More stress.

You may engage in alcohol and drug abuse as a coping mechanism.

Stress can make you resort to alcohol and some dangerous drugs in search of relief. This may lead to excessive consumption and you may get addicted to them. Drugs and alcohol addiction are problems on their own and you don’t want to add them to the stress.

You may develop physical diseases like high blood pressure.

Stress destabilizes your body system and its functions. Chemicals the body produces when stressed can make it difficult for the body system to function well. This may contribute to the risk of developing certain chronic diseases like high blood pressure.

You may develop mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

Your mind and body work closely together to maintain good health. When one is stressed, the other will become stressed too. Persistent worries can often subtly lead to depression or anxiety without one noticing it. Research shows that persistent stress can lead to anxiety and depression.

Tips that will help you thrive.

The following tips will help you handle stress better.

Positive attitude

Your attitude towards any problem often affects how you cope with it and your speed of recovery. Have a positive attitude towards everything. If you approach stress with the attitude of a winner, you will surely win and thrive I assure you.

Healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet will help you maintain good health generally. Certain foods too help to relieve stress. Eat a balanced diet rich in vegetables to stay healthy.

Enough sleep

Good sleep helps you rest the entire body including the brain. It helps you recover some energy. Sleep is a period when the muscles and brain replenish themselves. Get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each day.

Physical exercise

Keep a daily exercise routine that involves jogging/running, squatting, frog-jumping, press-up, weight lifting. The aim is to exercise all the muscles of the body. Doing it first thing in the morning is always better. But the priority is to do your daily exercise before the end of each day. You can hit the gym if it is conducive for you and your job. If you cannot, create a routine you can easily fulfill in your home within 30 to 40 minutes daily.

Exercise improves blood supply to almost all parts of the body especially the vital organs like the brain and heart. This makes them function better and helps you to be physically fit and relaxed. Secondly, exercise leads to the production of the “feel good chemicals of the brain” (the endorphins and serotonin). They make you feel relieved, relaxed, and overall better. Researches have shown.

Mindfulness exercises

Just like the muscles, the mind can be exercised too. Mindfulness exercises are exercises that help you to focus on the task of the moment. They help you to develop your attention such that you can easily recognize distracting thoughts (worries) and gently move your attention away from them to focus on the task of that moment. The aim of mindfulness exercise is that you learn to be aware of your worries and feelings, acknowledge them, accept them, and yet focus on the task at hand. Examples of mindfulness exercises: mindful breathing, meditations, yoga etc.

In mindful breathing, breathe in and out slowly paying attention to the breathing movements of the chest and the flow of air through the nostrils into the lung. Recognize each time your mind wanders away and bring it back. You can do it for about a minute or more each time.

During meditation, you focus your mind on a particular object or thought and try to keep it there for a stipulated time say five minutes or more as you like. Your mind will often wander away. Recognize each time it wanders and bring it back to the object or thought as the case may be until your set time elapses. Studies show that it reduces stress.

Comedy shows/laughter

Laughter and good humor relieve stress. One thing is that when you are captivated by a funny show or story, you forget your worries at least for that moment. Another reason is that research shows that laughter induces the brain to produce the feel-good hormones endorphins. Attend comedy shows, watch comedy movies, and crack jokes to relieve stress.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

This is a special type of exercise that uses both the principle of positive affirmation and eastern energy meridians of the body. It involves making a positive affirmation of yourself despite what you’re feeling while taping a finger at the various energy levels of the body. Just like mindfulness exercises, it can help. Researchers show that it does relieve stress.

Massage

A good massage can help reduce stress. Go get some good massage. You will have to keep to a regular schedule, maybe weekly or twice weekly.

Talk to someone

Discuss your problems with a trusted friend and get some social support. Problems shared with trusted friends get solved faster.

Go for counseling

Talk to a professional. S/he will help you understand your problems better and make suggestions that will help.

Other tips

  • Give yourself a break and rest: you work well only if you’re alive, healthy and strong.
  • Go on vacation, have fun and relax.
  • Learn about yourself and plan your activities in a way that you always get enough rest.
  • Do not ignore your body’s signals.
  • Find out the source of your worries and seek solutions for them.
  • Volunteer for community service. Yea, it makes you think about others and forget yourself a little bit.

In conclusion, stress is a dangerously silent monster that gradually drains your life. Understanding the causes and applying the tips here will not only help you survive but thrive.

Author's Bio: 

Emmanuel Ifeanyi Ekwomadu is a medical doctor and a writer who’s got a great passion for helping people enjoy healthy lives. He writes to enrich people with his compelling and educating articles on various health topics.
Contact him: anyiemadu@gmail.com