What is stress? When our brains sense that we need to respond to a situation, it speeds our heart rates, floods our bodies with hormones to stimulate our muscles, and prepares the body for action. Thousands of years ago, this meant preparing us to fight a T-rex, or run from a woolly mammoth. Today it means preparing us to face a boardroom full of executives, or perhaps a play room full of screaming toddlers.

The point is, today’s stresses are different — we (usually) don’t have to physically fight or flee from a stressful situation.

The problem is, the hormones and physical responses to stress need to be worked out of our systems so they won’t cause health problems.

Work Off the Stress Energy

Man-walkingImage via Flickr by DieselDemon

Since stress hormones are naturally meant to drive our bodies through a stressful event, the most effective way to deal with them is through exercise. A brisk walk, jog around the block, or a few reps with weights, burns off those stress hormones naturally, and efficiently. Some people find sports allow them to release pent-up aggression, like racquetball and boxing, which are particularly effective.

Eat Away Stress-Induced Symptoms

Many foods combat stress hormones. Foods high in magnesium, such as spinach, and rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, is great for helping the body cope with stress. Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, are good too, and have the added benefit of heart healthy Omega-3 acids. A handful of nuts also work, and the act of chewing nuts helps work off stress, too.

Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

It’s easier than you think to turn to drugs, and alcohol to help cope with stress. Drug addiction isn’t just for street people, it often affects loving mothers, hard-working fathers, and good teenagers trying to fit in, or cope with the stress of high school. The fact is, neither drugs nor alcohol help your body deal with stress, and cause far worse long-term problems than stress hormones. If you or someone you care about is using drugs to cope with stress, contact Manistee drug rehabilitation through their Facebook page. You can also get support from other people who have gone through the same situation.

Learn to Unwind

Part of our stress problem comes from being unable to let go. Workers have trouble letting go of the office, because we all have cell phones, and laptops to stay in touch 24-7. Mothers feel like they have to take full responsibility for the children and home, and often feel guilty for needing a break, because magazines tell them they’re supposed to be able to handle it all, all the time.

This might sell magazines, but it isn’t reality. Everyone needs time to set their responsibilities aside, and give their bodies, and minds a chance to completely unwind.

Develop a Support System

People, who have a network of friends, or family to lean on in times of need, share burdens with, and talk about problems with, are able to cope better with stress than those who don’t have this support system. If you have people who care about you, reach out to them for support. If not, join a club, volunteer organization, or take some community classes, and meet new friends to share life with. Socialization is healthy for everyone, especially during times of stress.

Stress doesn’t have to ruin your life or damage your health if you have these coping strategies.

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