Healthy Lifestyle: how to deal with stress

Here’s another great blog post from Big Sky Vernon Team Member Anne Crone.  Enjoy!

Fun Fact:  did you know that “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts”?   Too much of either one sure wreaks havoc on your body (and mind). 

Everyone experiences some sort of stress throughout the course of the day, week and year. If you’ve got a pulse, you probably have stress! Stressors can range from minor things like being stuck in traffic, to major things like loss of employment. Chronic on-going stress can cause a variety of symptoms that may negatively affect your overall health and well-being, so it’s important to find healthy ways to deal with your stress. 

That “stressed out” feeling is caused by your central nervous system (CNS) which is in charge of your “fight or flight” response. When you’re under stress the CNS instantly tells the rest of your body what to do.  In the brain, the hypothalamus tells your adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol. When the perceived fear is gone, the CNS should tell all those systems to go back to normal; that they’ve done their job. But if the CNS fails to return to normal, or if the stressor doesn’t go away, it takes a toll on your body. 

Symptoms of chronic stress include irritability, anxiety and depression. You may suffer from headaches or insomnia. Chronic stress is a factor in some behaviors like overeating or not eating enough, alcohol or drug abuse, or social withdrawal. Under stress your muscles often tense up to protect themselves from injury. You’ve probably felt your muscles tighten up and then release again once you relax. If you’re constantly under stress, your muscles don’t get the chance to relax. Tight muscles can cause headaches, back and shoulder pain, and body aches.

Over time people under chronic stress are more susceptible to viral illnesses like the flu and the common cold. Stress also increases risk of infections, susceptibility to other diseases, and can increase the time it takes to recover from an illness or injury.

How exercise helps us handle stress:

Most of us are aware of what happens to the body and mind when we exercise regularly –our jeans fit better, we can think more clearly and have more natural energy throughout the day. (If I could just bottle that feeling of post exercise awesomeness and sell it in pill form – well let’s just say I’d be writing this article from my own private island! lol). 

All you need is 20 minutes a day to melt a little stress away and release those endorphin’s – so no more skipping workouts when you feel overwhelmed, overworked and stressed out! Get to the gym and you’ll feel 10x better! 

Other ways to deal with stress:

Taking care of yourself is important in avoiding stress. Try to be mindful of food choices, limit the amount of alcohol you consume, get enough sleep, exercise regularly; these are all ways of positively investing in your health and well-being.

Allowing friends to help by letting you talk through your worries also helps to minimize stress. “Lean on Me”, “That’s What Friends Are For” – all those old songs are true! 

Get out there and do something that you really enjoy! It helps stress melt away. (I know… you feel that you’re too busy to do these things, but making time to do something you enjoy really can help you relax. It might also help you get more done in other areas of your life. Make a little time and give it a try!) Why not try a yoga class, workout with a buddy or go for a run or walk with a friend? We promise, it helps!

Need help figuring out a workout plan to help you manage your stress?

That’s what we’re here for!


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