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The Negative Impacts of Stress… and What We Can Do About Them

While there really isn’t a lot of debate on this issue  – most people know and understand that high levels of chronic stress are bad for them – this knowledge doesn’t seem to have much impact on our day to day behavior. Despite knowing that stress isn’t a healthy thing to live with, and that there are concrete actions we can take to reduce our stress levels and improve our mental well-being, many of us continue to avoid doing so.

In this article, we feature a video from Bill Cunningham that we hope will help push those who continue to live with chronic stress into a deeper understanding of the long-term health impacts this can have. Go ahead and take a look below – when you return, we’ll be talking about what we can do with this knowledge.

To reiterate the key point of this video, we need to remember that the negative impacts of stress aren’t just limited to feeling uncomfortable and less productive in the short-term. In fact, brain research has shown us that stress has chronic and lasting impacts on our mental functioning, including an increased inability to manage stress, increased fear, decreased mental functioning, and higher risk of mental impairments. While it may be easy to put off dealing with stress (after all, we’re so busy, right?), the truth is that we must start taking steps NOW to make a change. Let’s take a look below at some basic keys to stress management that you can easily work into your schedule and start reducing your stress levels today:

  • Pay attention to your body as you live your day: What are some of the mental and physical cues that indicate you are feeling stress? What are you thinking? How does your body react?
  • Once you know your cues, apply to those to thinking actively about what is causing you stress: When you notice a stress reaction in yourself, take the time to think about what caused it. Is it something in your control? Something that isn’t? Try to pick apart what is creating the stress response and let go of what you can’t change.
  • Use basic stress management techniques: While the video suggests exercise and meditation for these, there are a number of other things you can do, especially when feeling an “in-the-moment” stressor. These include things like deep breathing, writing down your thoughts, or simply walking away from the stressful event (if possible) to give yourself space. The important thing about stress management is that once you know what causes you stress, that you have a technique for each of those things that is effective in lowering your stress response.

Our final tip: Make stress management a priority. It’s a lot easier to say you’ll start doing things differently tomorrow, or next week. But this issue is so detrimental, so embedded in our day-today lives, that unless we commit to change and start immediately, we won’t break our stress habit. Take the time to understand and deal with your stress – your health, and your ability to cope, will thank you.