April 12th, 2019

The surprising strains to your body - sneaky sources of stress

What is stress? For starters, it is the physiological and psychological state of distress. While some stress is good, like getting married or buying a new home, most of it is related to our body’s response to an external threat or harm. Stress in any shape or form isn’t benign: it can cause serious health problems like cardiovascular disease (stroke, hypertension, heart disease & heart attacks) and mental health issues (depression and anxiety).

We all know typical sources of stress can be when you are struggling to pay the bills, move to a new city where you don’t know anyone, or when there is a lot of pressure at work and your boss nags you for deadlines. But did you know that there are a lot of hidden reasons for stress that you don’t even realize! Below are some of those -

Too much caffeine or sugar: Caffeine is a well-known stimulant, as is sugar. Consuming caffeine or sugar when in stressful situations may put you on the edge instead of helping you. This is because caffeine increases certain neurotransmitters in the body leading to more stress.

Technology and social media: Being surrounded by too many screens can lead to stress too. Constant texts, emails, messages, and notifications take you on the path of stress overload without you even knowing it. In addition, the constant pressures of comparison on social media can lead to stress and psychological issues. Power down and reboot whenever you get a chance to.

Toxic people: We all have those friends who weigh us down with their issues. They constantly vent about unnecessary drama and bring their negativity into our lives which can stress you out unnecessarily. Get rid of these friends or keep them at a distance.

Not enough sleep: Sleep is essential for your body to relax and repair and also to refresh your mind. If you don’t get enough zzzs, it can lead to a whole host of health and mental issues. Getting a good night’s sleep can help your mind stay calm even in stressful situations.

Being too hard on yourself: Being our own worst critic is a good thing but being too hard on yourself can take you to stress land. Celebrate small wins and work on areas where you lack. Strive for progress, not perfection.

Clutter: Clutter limits your ability to think straight because it creates visual distractions. Surrounding yourself with too many things, whether at home or in the office can lead to stress. Declutter and organize your surrounding so you can feel more calm and relaxed.

Procrastinating: Sometimes the best ideas come at the last minute. But if you are constantly in a state of rushing to the finish line you are unnecessarily adding stress to your life. Do things in a timely order to avoid last-minute anxiety!

Juggling too many things: Some of us are good at multi-tasking but let’s admit not all of us are. Taking more things than you can handle can just lead to anxiety instead of getting them off your plate. The best way is to prioritize your tasks and not spreading yourself too thin.

Sports: Surprising yet true. While sports are supposed to help you unwind, they may be causing your stress! Especially if you are passionate about a sports team and can’t take their loss in your stride. Keep stress levels down and maybe check the score after the game is over.

Now with all of this knowledge, how does one tackle this issue? Here are 5 tips on how to reduce stress:

Breathing Exercises: Take three deep breaths slowly, twice a day. It helps to relax your muscles and mind, especially in a stressful situation

MeditationMindfulness and meditation are great practices to follow to be present in the moment and get in tune with your body

Physical Activity or ExerciseGet outdoors, walk or workout to get your blood flowing and the endorphins pumping. Exercise has been shown to relieve stress

JournalingAnother great method is to put your thoughts on paper or type them out. It helps you collect your thoughts and help you think clearly

Strong Support System: Surround yourself with people who lift you up and cheer you up. Whether it is a friend, spouse, family member or coworker, someone you can trust

Stress is unavoidable. In addition to eliminating these hidden sources of stress, we all need to work on our reactions to different situations. Practicing some of the ideas shared above will help you feel physically and mentally better and you will feel better equipped to handle stress.

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​Sofia Rodriguez, Fitness & Health Expert

Sofia Rodriguez is a Fitness & Health Expert in the VA/DC area. She has a Masters in Clinical Exercise Physiology and has worked with cardiac, cancer, diabetic, and injury rehab patients in the past. She is a Certified Personal Trainer ranked among top trainers in the country with many years of experience training clients for weight loss, muscle gain, and overall health. Sofia has been the go-to expert on many TV morning shows, has been featured in several magazines and online publications such as Forbes & Huffington Post, is a published fitness writer, a fitness model, and specializes in bodybuilding and nutrition. She is bilingual, speaking fluent Spanish and English.

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