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4 Ways to Reduce and Manage Stress

9/23/2015, 3:48 p.m.
Stress is an epidemic. It’s one of the most widespread and debilitating conditions in the world, yet many people act ...

Don’t let stress control you — take control of your stress.

By David Asprey | Yahoo Health

Stress is an epidemic. It’s one of the most widespread and debilitating conditions in the world, yet many people act as if it is completely natural. Stress sucks up the energy reserves you should be using to create more resilience. Here are just a few things stress does to your body:

• It weakens your immune system.

• It makes you fat and shortens your lifespan.

• It can contribute to sexual dysfunction for men and women.

• On some levels, the brain is like software. Negative emotions, hostile feelings, and recurring irrational thoughts corrupt your consciousness. After years of being stressed, if you’re like most people, you’ve probably programmed your body to become hardwired for tension.

Stress holds you back in all aspects of life. It costs you precious time that should be spent enjoying life. It hurts your interpersonal relationships and alienates others. It decreases your ability to make rational decisions and perform at work. In short, stress sucks.

Most people have no clue how important it is to manage stress — or that it’s even possible. They go through life thinking they’ll just bear it until retirement or vacation. Or even worse, they convince themselves that they don’t really feel any stress because they don’t have a reason to feel it. In the mean time, they go through mini nervous breakdowns on a daily basis, mistreating themselves and the people around them.

Here’s the secret: stress is not a rational thing — it is an irrational feeling, and it will only get worse unless you learn to manage it. The good news is that stress, like everything else, is hackable, so you can convert stress into a tool that makes you stronger instead of sapping your energy.

The Science of Stress

Stress is the disruption of homeostasis — the balance and order in your body. Disrupting homeostasis is not always bad. Exercise, for example, is very stressful on your muscles, but it drives your body to grow. Similarly stressing your brain in new ways — learning a new language, solving a math problem, creating a new business/product — strengthens it and keeps it functioning well. You’re designed to handle intermittent bouts of stress and adapt to them. The trouble starts when stress becomes chronic.

Constant, prolonged stress is bad news, and its effects on your body are very real. The symptoms of stress come in four varieties: cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral. Here is a short list of the various symptoms:

Cognitive symptoms

• Memory problems

• Inability to concentrate

• Poor judgment

• Seeing only the negative

• Anxious or racing thoughts

• Constant worrying

• Emotional symptoms

Moodiness

• Irritability or short temper

• Agitation, inability to relax

• Feeling overwhelmed

• Sense of loneliness and isolation

• Depression or general unhappiness

Physical symptoms

• Fat gain

• Aches and pains

• Diarrhea or constipation

• Nausea, dizziness