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ARE YOU STRESSING OUT?
Stress...just saying that word out loud is enough to stress us out! It's one of the biggest risks to our overall health. And stress can affect more than just your mind. The physical effects caused by it can manifest themselves in so many ways, from headaches (a BIGGIE for me), elevated blood pressure, skin reactions (I broke out in hives for months), heart disease, and the list goes on and on. So how do we discover the best ways to alleviate stress? One popular answer at the moment is self-care. It's currently being spoken about virtually everywhere from the internet to books and even classes on the subject. But self-care isn't always a one-size-fits-all set of scenarios. Because everyone is not the same when it comes to dealing with daily stress. For some, it could be as simple as having that morning cup of coffee in a quiet setting. For others, it could be their daily/weekly visit to the gym or journaling. But what about the people who HATE coffee (seems unimaginable but...) or will think up any excuse not to exercise or forget and go five days without writing anything down? A lot of people end up doing these things because it's what other people are doing or suggesting. Something that I discovered which can be very helpful in finding what works best for you is to quiet your mind and be conscious without judgment in order to fully understand what your personal likes and dislikes are. Not what you think would work because everyone else is doing it, but what it is that YOU want to do. Once you dial into that, trust me, the answer will come to you. It could be something quite simple and tangible too, such as carrying a talisman in your pocket or purse that you can pull out and hold in your hand. Or music on your favorite app., or just being grateful for the moment you are in. It could be anything. But whatever it is, make sure it is something that brings you a sense of calming peace and enjoyment and that is personalized just for you and no one else. For me, I find yoga, meditation and focusing on my breathing helps tremendously. But again, this is what I found that works for me so it's not going to be the answer for everyone else. To get a better perspective on just how ongoing stress can affect your overall health and wellbeing, according to a study by Carolyn Aldwin at the Center for Healthy Aging Research at Oregon State University, "people who always perceived their daily life to be over-the-top stressful were three times more likely to die over a period of time over the study rather than the people who rolled with the punches and didn't find daily life very stressful". She is talking about chronic stress. Which elevates cortisol (stress hormone) levels. These ongoing chronic levels can interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, and increase blood pressure and heart disease which I had mentioned at the beginning of this article. Realistically, some daily stress is inevitable for everyone at certain times during our lives. But it doesn't have to be a slow descent into becoming a chronic condition. There are options out there to help us keep our stress at healthier levels without plunging us into a disease which could end up being far worse than the stress itself that caused it. It seems that we are all living in stressful times these days. Maybe it's just me but I think people seem to have shorter fuses, very little patience and have completely empty tanks when it comes to a sense of empathy for others anymore. And it's usually over things that are rather trivial in the grand scheme of things. It is imperative that we all learn how to deal with whatever our personal stress triggers are in more positive, productive ways to avoid them from becoming a serious health risk for us. Life is short! We need to find ways to embrace all the joy and positivity we can in our lives and try harder to project that every day. Not only for ourselves but for others too. Instead of allowing our stressors to get out of hand, which leads us into a nasty habitual condition that threatens our health and wellbeing, let's leave our stress where it belongsā¦in the dust. The world would be a much happier, calmer place if we all did.
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