As I was driving out to Hutchinson for my weekly farm fix at Loon Organics yesterday, MPR was reporting on how stress contributes to poor health and poor health contributes to stress. You can easily empathize with the stress of someone with illness, but how does stress contribute to poor health? Stress adversely affects 12 systems of the body. Watch this video (revised link) to see how:
That's a pretty big deal, huh? Hopefully, now you understand how emotional and psychological stress can greatly impact your health in immediate and long-lasting ways.
So what do you do about it?
Well, first, and most obviously, is to reduce your stress. What stressors can you eliminate from your life? Some major life-changing may be in order like ending a negative relationship or getting a new job, but small changes can make a big impact, too. Consider what you can replace or rearrange in your life to reduce your interaction with things that cause you stress.
Secondly, mitigate your stress response. In other words: change how you respond to your stressors. Physical activity, meditation, prayer, yoga, deep breathing, and expressing your emotions are all tools to not only relieve stress, but to also rewire your body to respond less severely to your stressors.
Finally, recharge. Take time off from doing to just be. It is important to have down time every day, even for just a few minutes. Weekends and vacation are crucial for unwinding, unplugging, and re-evaluating what is working for you in your life and what is not.
Here is inspiration to vacation from my recent trip to Door County, WI. The best thing about watching a sunset (I mean, besides the remarkable beauty) - you just can't rush it. To truly enjoy a sunset it you've gotta sit back and let it fully take you in.
What stress relieving tips have you found to be helpful in your life? Share them in the comment section below.
Jesse Haas is a co-founder of Wellness Minneapolis, Board Certified Holistic Health Coach, and a Certified Massage Therapist. She is also pursuing a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. Click here to learn more about Jesse.