National Stress Awareness Day - monitor and balance your stress

Stress can be a great thing. It can help us achieve our goals, help make quick decisions or even be fun - like the stress from riding a roller coaster. Bad stress however, can do the opposite - cause us to lose concentration, and impede our decision making. Chronic bad stress begins to impact our health, causing headaches, trouble with sleeping, pain and even changes to our blood pressure.  Today, on National Stress Awareness Day we want to identify our stress, and remember what things help center us in times of stress. 

Monitor and Explore Your Stress

Getting to know yourself well can help you monitor your own mental health and physical health.  Be self aware and take note if you begin unhealthy eating habits, losing sleep, or drinking more than usual as they can be physical signs that you are going through a stressful period. There are so many different things that cause us “bad” stress. Taking an honest look at what may be causing you stress can help you reach solutions.  

For example, maybe you are having an issue with time management. Do you feel that you never have enough time, or that you are always running late?  It is possible that you could improve on estimating how long things take to help you with time management. Mastering this specific thing could minimize daily stressors.  If this sounds like something you want to try - visit this link to Become a Better Time Estimator. 

Another common stressor is having too much on your plate.  You might be having a hard time saying “no”, or having trouble prioritizing or finding yourself getting overwhelmed by social media, family, money or work.  Many different things can throw our stress levels or our lives off balance. Check in with yourself and monitor the stressful aspects in your life. Being overburdened can be as simple as needing to be more assertive in saying “no” to adding more responsibilities to others and saying “yes” to taking care of the responsibilities you have to yourself.  The biggest responsibilities you have to yourself is achieving and maintaining a healthy body and mind. 

Balanced Lifestyle and Stress

A well-balanced diet and staying active ensures your body is better prepared to fight stress and helps control type 2 diabetes. 

Nutrition and stress are interconnected. When our bodies are poorly fed, stress takes an even greater toll on our health.  Certain vitamins and minerals found in healthy foods can actually help our immune system and fortify our ability to fight stress. Many people use alcohol or unhealthy “comfort” foods to alleviate stress. However, alcohol consumption does not help your brain deal with feelings of stress and can actually get in the way. Additionally, people who suffer from chronic stress might gain an unhealthy amount of weight. 

Exercise may help bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Exercise can provide stress relief for your body while imitating effects of stress, such as the flight or fight response, and helping your body and its systems practice working together through those effects. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety.  Physical exercise has been proven to play a key role in preventing and reducing the effects of stress and type 2 diabetes.

Empathy and Connection in Stress

You are not alone living with stress or type 2. Keep in touch with people who can provide emotional support and practical help.  Everyone experiences stress and anxiety in a variety of forms throughout all stages of life. Whether you or someone you know is going through a period of anxiety it is important to be compassionate and empathetic to yourself and the people around you. Stress is something we all have in common.  If something has worked for you, a specific coping mechanism for managing stress or anxiety, share it with others! It could benefit someone you care about or a stranger and in the meantime help you recenter and reflect on your own challenges. Share your experiences in our online community  "Winning Type 2 Diabetes Together". 

If you or someone you know feel that chronic stress has become part of your daily life or feel overwhelmed you should seek professional help.  You should seek help right away if you have suicidal thoughts, feel you cannot cope, or are using drugs or alcohol more frequently as a result of stress.

Today, take a minute to think about what stressors you may have in your life and how you can adjust them.  Remember to always put your physical needs into consideration; eating healthy, staying active and getting rest first and foremost to continue living a balanced lifestyle even in times of stress.