Managing Your Stress at Home
Recognized every June, Men’s Health Month encourages men to take control of their health.
Stress effects everyone, men, women and even children. Everyone experiences stress differently, they also cope with stress very differently.
“Women tend to talk about their stress more, they talk to their friends and that is very helpful to them,” said primary care physician Dr. Sameera Fareed. “Men tend to internalize their feelings, they will often not bring up these problems unless they are asked about specific symptoms of stress.”
Heart palpitations, restlessness, over eating and irritability- when stress hits it can effect everything from your energy levels to your performance at work. Long term stress can materialize into serious health concerns like hypertension, weight gain, diabetes and high blood pressure.
“The biggest issue with stress is that people stop taking care of themselves. Their blood pressure goes up, their blood sugar levels go up and they stop exercising,” Dr. Fareed said. “Stress has a lot of different negative effects on a person. Their relationships can suffer, their work can suffer and it does not have to happen that way because there are good ways of dealing with stress and they can be done at home mostly.”
6 Ways to Manage Your Stress at Home
Blow off some steam
Before you blow your lid, consider blowing off some steam instead.
“The best thing to do about stress is to really exercise,” Dr. Fareed said.
You don’t have to be the world’s strongest man or run a marathon to feel the positive effects of exercise. Walking, taking the stairs or doing yardwork can improve your mood and create the same “feel good” sensation as a cardio workout.
“Set yourself a goal to exercise more often, to lift weights more often, to reach 10 thousand steps a day. Ultimately, people that exercise feel better and are less stressed. You are more likely to see improvement in your mood and feel more at ease when you achieve that goal.”
Sleep on it
“The current recommendation is 7 – 8 hours of sleep a night.”
Adults that report getting less than eight hours of sleep are more likely to report feelings of anger, irritability, lacking energy or interest and feeling overwhelmed.
“Lack of sleep raises the cortisol level which causes stress. Cortisol is a stress hormone,” Dr. Fareed says. “Lack of sleep affects various aspects of your daily life. If you are not sleeping well, you should talk to your doctor, there may be other health concerns going on.”
A study from the American Psychological Association states that sleep is so crucial that even slight sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment and mood. “Research has shown that most Americans would be happier, healthier and safer if they were to sleep an extra 60 to 90 minutes per night.”
Take a deep breath
Sometimes we can get so caught up in stressful situations that we forget to breathe.
“A lot of people really benefit from abdominal breathing exercises,” Dr. Fareed said. “If it is done properly, it can relieve a lot of anxiety.”
Abdominal breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing is a breathing exercise often recommended for individuals with COPD to promote diaphragm strengthening. Other health benefits include lowered stress levels, reduced blood pressure and decreased heart rate.
“Really that is what a lot of people want to know, if I am feeling anxious, what should I do? Abdominal breathing that is what I recommend.”
Be kind to your liver
After a stressful day, it might seem like a good idea to reach for a cold one, but when you are coping with stress, alcohol can actually be harmful.
Besides being harmful to your sleep cycle which already may be suffering from stress, increased alcohol use with stress can negatively impact your mental health.
“Reduce your alcohol intake when you are especially stressed,” Dr. Fareed said. “Alcohol is a depressant and it can cause problems with depression. Alcohol is not a good way to deal with stress.”
Mind your mental space
When you are overwhelmed, daily activities can become difficult. It may become hard to focus when your mind is racing in a hundred different directions. Calm your mind and your nerves, with a few minutes of meditation.
“Meditation can really make a difference to stress levels. Even 10 minutes of sitting down can decrease anxiousness.”
Don’t know how to meditate? How do you even start? No worries, there is an app for that! Compare The Best Meditation Apps of 2019 and pick one that works best for you.
Go take a hike
All work and no play can make for increased amounts of stress. Thankfully, you don’t have to go far to find escape in the outdoors.
“We are in Wyoming, go outdoors! Get some fresh air.”
Spending time outside is a free and effective way to improve your stress levels. When you are participating in outdoor activities, hiking a trail, fishing the stream or just enjoying the sun, it increases your blood circulation as well as serotonin levels and endorphins.
“You don’t have to be in Hawaii to relax. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. You can relax in your own home.”