Everyone suffers from stress, but not all stress is bad. For example, working under pressure may result in improved work performance or passing an exam with a better grade. Short bursts of stress teach you to identify your weaknesses and improve on them, manage your emotions, and motivate you to develop your skills.
It is when stress becomes constant that it can adversely affect you. These effects impact you physically, emotionally, cognitively, and behaviorally. Sleep is a significant facet of your health that suffers if you’re under constant stress, which in turn will affect other areas of your life.
There are many causes of ‘bad’ stress. In the workforce, many employees are often in competition with one another. Let’s assume there are two colleagues in the same position vying for one promotion. This can be negative for several reasons:
- The candidate that doesn’t get the promotion may be removed, which brings with it added stress. He will not only lose his source of income, but he may also become anxious about being able to care for his family and lose self-confidence because he no longer has a professional persona with whom to identify.
- The candidate who gets the promotion may be expected to work longer hours, or even absorb the work of the retrenched colleague. Longer hours may lead to less time for stress-relieving activities.
People that live and work under relentless pressure may develop more serious conditions as a result of stress, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, hypertension, joint pain, and heart conditions.
Our personal lives and relationships are also potential sources of stress. Losing a loved one or experiencing physical trauma can both result in significant disruption to health and routine, creating high levels of stress.
How Can You Manage Your Stress?
One of the top stress management tools available to every one of us is sleep. The brain detoxifies itself during rest and reduces the level of the stress hormone, cortisol. So, a good night’s rest, on a supportive mattress, is imperative in counteracting stress.
Many people are unaware of the quality of their sleep. The body does well to adapt to various environments, which can prevent us from reflecting on how we rest. You may be able to fall asleep with a street lamp leaking light through your window, but your quality of rest won’t be the same. Additionally, many will sacrifice their sleep to work or socialize. These missed hours place greater pressure upon our bodies.
When considering sleep hygiene, there are many factors to consider. Noise and light are two common disruptors. Few people also realize that mattress technology now plays a large role in our sleep. Old innerspring models are quickly being replaced by the best memory foam mattresses that accommodate various sleeping positions.
A symptom of chronic stress can be weight fluctuation. This constant shift in weight may lead to health issues, such as obesity. Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle combats potential low moods and poor self-imagery, both of which lead to stress. Exercise programs to induce healthy weight gain may include weight training and a protein-rich diet, as this encourages the increase of muscle mass. A cardiovascular workout, combined with circuit training and healthy eating, will result in advantageous weight loss. Exercise releases endorphins, shifting you from a negative mind space into a positive one. An added benefit of a good workout is becoming physically tired, which allows for deep sleep.
Experiment with calmative techniques. Deep breathing exercises are great options because your body’s natural relaxation response is activated. Performing these exercises before settling down for the night will not only slow your heartbeat, it will induce a sense of serenity which will result in a peaceful sleep.
Caffeine alters your ability to fall asleep because it aids adrenaline production, which may affect the creation of the sleep hormone, melatonin. It would be prudent to reduce your intake of coffee, as well as sugar-rich carbonated drinks, and where possible, stop drinking them at least 6 hours before your planned bedtime. Studies show this is how long it takes for caffeine to work out of the body.
Research shows that a disordered space may also contribute to the build-up of stress. Neglecting our rooms so that they become cluttered prevents us from feeling comfortable, which, in turn, increases our anxiety. So it is a good idea to de-clutter your bedroom. This space is where you should feel most comfortable and relaxed.
Regularly keeping on top of cleaning helps a home to feel more welcoming. It is a small inclusion that prevents the accumulation of untidiness and dirt. Other tasks, such as considering your home’s design and content, are shown to improve happiness as well. The current trend of minimalism has gained popularity for its wellness benefits, for instance.
Stress often becomes a chronic illness because there is no balance in your life. Organize yourself by making a to-do list. This simple step will allow you to manage your time better and prevent events or tasks from being forgotten. Incorporating time for yourself, whether to practice a hobby or spend time with family and friends, will also improve your sense of satisfaction.
The constant need to be digitally connected is one of the leading causes of stress and disturbed sleep today. Reducing screen time will contribute to less stress and improved sleep because the blue light emitted from mobile devices also inhibits the production of melatonin. Essentially, our minds interpret screens as sunlight, tricking them into believing it may still be daytime.
Using these tips above, you’re likely to begin enjoying a good night’s rest, allowing you to better cope with stress.