Tax Day, holidays and finals may all make your stress levels rise, but they don’t have to. April is Stress Awareness Month, and the perfect time to refresh yourself mentally and emotionally. Learning your stress triggers and incorporating different stress management techniques can reduce the toll of chronic stress on your mind and body over time.
What Is Stress?
Stress is your body’s natural response to overwhelming or fearful situations – also referred to as a fight-or-flight response. Whenever you feel anxious, your body signals the hypothalamus to release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones help your body gear up to take on the perceived threat or situation. Your muscles and blood vessels tighten, your heart beats faster to distribute blood quicker, your liver releases more glucose to give you an energy boost and so on. However, once the threat or situation resolves itself, your hypothalamus signals your systems to return to normal.
What Causes Stress?
Anything that feels like it is out of your control or makes you feel uncertain can spark stress and anxiety. Everyday activities can cause your body to begin the stress response like exams, traveling, money and bills, traffic, deadlines and more.
How Does Chronic Stress Affect Me?
If you experience frequent or chronic stress, then your body will spend a lot of time in response mode, and your organs don’t get the chance to relax. It is important to find stress management tactics that work for you to allow your body to rest. Otherwise, you may overwork your heart and maintain high blood sugar and pressure, both of which put you at risk for heart disease and diabetes. The prolonged muscle tension can also cause headaches as well as general body aches. In some cases, the hormonal fluctuations can cause acne and even irregular menstrual cycles in women. Depending on your stress level, you could experience other physical signs of stress:
- Upset stomach or nausea
- Chest pains
- Trouble sleeping
- High blood pressure
Stress not only affects you physically, but it can also impact your mental clarity and behavior. Those with frequent or chronic stress may experience:
- Over or under-eating
- Drug and alcohol abuse
Stress Management Techniques
Chronic stress can seep into your relationships and daily interactions causing you to lash out on others. Adding stress management tactics like exercise or supplements can alleviate some of your anxiety. Activities you think might relieve stress, like watching TV, surfing the web or indulging in a few extra snacks, can actually leave you feeling worse than you started. Here are some additions to potentially calm your nerves.
1. Exercise more – Put your body’s stress response to good use and channel your anxious energy into an intense workout routine. Not only will you be able to clear your mind of your worries during your workout, but daily exercise also reduces stress hormones while releasing endorphins that improve your state of mind.
2. Write it out – Bottling up your feelings only makes them worse. Getting your thoughts onto paper can help you feel less stressed and help you get to the root of your feelings.
3. Spend time with loved ones – Spending time with friends and family – and even your pets - can help you feel energized and recharged. Research suggests that this quality time encourages you to release more oxytocin - a natural stress-relieving hormone. You will feel more support during stressful situations, and the laughter you share will help release tension and brighten your state of mind.
4. Use Essential Oils – Essential oils and scented candles may help you feel more relaxed and ease tension in the muscles. Scents like lavender, bergamot and sandalwood promote calmness and a more restful sleep.
5. Take A Max Chill Shot – CBD can help reduce your body’s reaction to stress and anxiety by boosting your mental clarity through endocannabinoids like anandamide – referred to as a “bliss molecule.” Hemp Bombs Max Chill Shot comes packed with 75mg of premium CBD to help ease chronic stress, but it also comprises the anxiety reliever, passiflora. Studies show that L-Theanine – a main component of the Max Chill Shot - reduces your body’s response to stress by lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
It takes some trial and error to find what works for you when it comes to lowering your chronic stress. Figuring out what is causing you to worry and taking control of the situation can help. If you have flare-ups of stress and anxiety, CBD products may help resolve them quickly.
The American Institute of Stress – Stress Effects
National Center for Biotechnology Information – L-Theanine Reduces Psychological and Physiological Stress Responses