What’s more stressful than the phrase, “You need to relax”? When you’re stressed out, sometimes it can seem like the rain of pressure will never let up. Here’s a secret: You won’t find time to relax… you need to make time to relax.
And once you do make the time, you might have trouble figuring out just how to relax. Don’t worry, when it comes to ways to relax you’ve come to the right place.
Improper management of stress and tension can have many effects on your overall health and even your mood. Continue reading to learn the signs that it may be time to destress. You’ll also learn a few techniques for properly relaxing.
Do You Exhibit These Signs During Times Of High Stress? Watch For These Signs That You Need Some Rest And Relaxation
When you’re stressed out, your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is activated and stress hormones are released. And believe it or not, you can continue to carry the effects of those stress hormones throughout life. In the end, this could lead to certain health issues.1
To help you spot signs that you may be reaching high-stress levels, here’s a list of ways to recognize you may be dealing with high levels of pressure and tension.
Potential Physical Signs: Sudden Changes In Weight
Emotional eating (and conversely, having no appetite) is a sign you may not be feeling relaxed. In fact, change in body mass index has been observed with psychosocial stress related to work tension, strain in personal relationships, financial limitations and life constraints.2
Stress can sometimes contribute to changes in your dietary behaviors. And that can often lead to a change in your weight. Among both men and women, weight gain is often associated with the following stress-inducing concerns:
- Demands of your job
- Lack of privacy
- Lack of authority to make decisions
- Trouble paying the bills
- Perceived constraints in life
- Strain in family or relationships3
Stress eating is not uncommon. And forgetting to eat because of stress can be another way your body might react when nervous or overwhelmed. If you feel like you’re unable to control your eating habits, check in with your healthcare professional for some assistance.
Potential Physical Signs: Fluctuations In Sex Drive
What is libido? Essentially, the word encapsulates basic human mental states and how they relate biologically to sexual behavior. Libido can address the biological, motivational-affective, and cognitive behaviors around a person’s sex drive.4
It’s different for everyone, but stress can affect your libido. In one recent study, higher stress levels predicted a lower desire for women, but a higher desire for men.5 And when you’re stressed, your body produces fewer libido-boosting hormones.6 If you have any concerns, speak to your professional healthcare provider.
Potential Physical Signs: Hair Loss
Some types of stress can lead to a loss of hair. This is just one way your body sends the signal out that you might need some rest and relaxation. For instance, telogen effluvium is one type of hair loss that comes on relatively suddenly and may be the result of physiologic or emotional stress.
If you have any concerns or notice an abnormal amount of hair loss, speak to your doctor right away. Hair loss can be distressing and can even have an effect on your quality of life. If you’re experiencing lost hair that is in fact due to high-stress levels, there is good news: Once the source of stress is removed (or managed), your hair will likely regrow.7
Potential Physical Signs: Sleep Is Hard To Come By
When you’re stressed, you may spend more nights tossing and turning than you’re used to. If you’re stressed out, it can be tough to turn off your thoughts and get to sleep. Over time this can lead to sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can then lead to a brutal cycle of causing more stress and therefore finding it even more difficult to get to sleep.
Why does this occur? Well, stress is more complex than you may realize. Excess stress may lead to long-term and short-term compromises in your biological systems. These compromises can even activate your body’s central nervous system and its defenses.8
Personal Signs: Feeling Overly Anxious, Stressed, Moody, Or Irritable
Do you find your patience thinning as the days go by? Stress can have a huge impact on our emotional wellbeing.
Furthermore, stressful life events can, in fact, lead to the potential development of elevated anxiety sensitivity. According to one study, stressful life events were associated with increases in anxiety.9,10
It’s important to manage stress properly to avoid putting your health and emotional wellbeing at risk. Let’s take a look at some techniques for properly managing stress levels.
Relaxation Techniques: Meditation, Breathing Exercises, And More
Active Problem Solving — When you’re stressed about something in your life, you may not know how to address a given roadblock or obstacle. The following steps to figuring out the solution to a problem may be able to help you curb your stress.
- Define the problem or cause of your stress.
- Brainstorm possible solutions.
- Rank the solutions.
- Develop an action plan.
- Test solutions.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation — Progressive muscle relaxation can sometimes help reduce the muscle tension linked to stress. To practice this technique, sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes.
Now, starting from your legs and working your way up, tense and relax each major muscle group. Clench the muscle group for 10 seconds, then release the hold for 20 seconds.
Meditation And Mindful Thinking— Are you able to lend your attention to the present moment with curiosity and openness? Sometimes stress can make it difficult to be in the present because it asks you to examine the past or fret about the future.
Learning to be mindful can sometimes help train your brain to break this bad form of habitual thinking. Guided meditation can often help put your mind at ease and bring you to the present moment. There is also a heap of mindfulness apps or classes out there — think of this as yoga for your mind. Mindfulness-based practices can provide promising ways to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.11
Breathing Exercises – An increasing number of studies are revealing that diaphragmatic breathing (otherwise known as deep breathing) might actually trigger useful body relaxation responses, benefit physical well-being and support mental health.
Deep breathing involves deeper inhalation and exhalation. This type of breathing is a core practice in yoga and Tai Chi. Deep breathing may also contribute to emotional balance and social adaptation.12
Breathing exercises can help you relax, and you don’t need to do much in order to accomplish this:
Start simply. Breathe in and out on a slow count of four. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Repeat this pattern.
Physical Activity – You know that physical activity is known to benefit your overall health. But did you know that getting exercise (especially on a regular basis), is reported to relieve stress?
It’s true. One systematic review of randomized controlled trials showed that, overall, exercise is a viable solution for those experiencing anxiety. In fact, a high-intensity exercise regimen is shown to be even more effective in lowering anxiety than low-intensity exercise.13
And in another recent study, psychophysiological responses were compared to acute psychosocial stressors between individuals who did, or did not, exercise regularly. Individuals who exercised once a week (at least) exhibited healthier heart rates than the non-exercisers. Since heightened heart rates are connected to feelings of anxiety, this is good news.
Moreover, the emotional responses by those who exercised regularly showed less of a decline in mood than participants who didn’t exercise at all.14
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends American adults exercise for a minimum of a half-hour each day (5 days a week) to support general health and quality of life.15
Seek Professional Help – Finally, if you feel as though you are unable to relieve yourself of stress, you might want to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can assess if your stress is situational or something more than just stress.
Often, people write off the notion of seeking professional help for mental health needs. But there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Talking with a healthcare professional can help in many ways — by giving you the tools to conquer stress.
Relaxation Techniques For Stressful Minds
In the end, there are things you can do to remind your body it’s time to relax. Exercise and meditation can sometimes occupy your body and brain long enough to distract you from your stress.
And sometimes just a little break from stress is all you need. So, do your best to take the time to relax with the techniques mentioned above.
11. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-to-handle-stress-at-work-2019041716436. 1