On Edge? Get Less Stress for the Best Rest
Whether it is bills, work or a number of other reasons, chances are something in your life is causing you stress. Sometimes stress can be beneficial when it prompts action in order to resolve the cause of the stress. But too much stress, or when worrying doesn’t lead to taking steps to fix the issue, can be harmful to your health.
Stress is hardwired into our bodies—think of the “fight or flight” response our ancestors had when they encountered a saber-toothed tiger. And it’s not just ferocious, fanged felines that can cause that kind of reaction. Thoughts and feelings can make us feel stressed, too. Anything that causes stress is known as a stressor.
Stress causes your body to release the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Together, the two hormones put your body in survival mode by increasing alertness and energy consumption, getting your heart pumping faster, and putting other bodily functions (like your immune system) on the sidelines. While great for a short-term emergency, prolonged stress can take its toll.
Studies have shown that too much stress can cause heart disease, sleep and digestive problems, depression and more. While stress may be inevitable, stress-related complications don’t have to be. By learning to recognize stressors and manage your reactions to them, you can help your body relax and ward off potential problems—all while putting your mind at ease, as well.
How to Stress Less
Here are some steps to reduce stress in your life:
- Stay active. Exercising lowers your blood pressure, improves your mood by releasing endorphins, and is a good way to shift your focus away from any worries. Even a quick ten-minute walk can help clear your mind.
- Meditate. Learning to acknowledge and then discard unwanted or unhelpful thoughts can help you get through stressful moments. Deep breathing and sense of calm associated with meditation also lowers your heart rate and helps you feel relaxed.
- Explore the outdoors. Research has shown that a simple walk in the park can help relieve stress. Being in nature, especially when surrounded by trees or by a body of water, has a calming effect. The sight of trees or plants alone can lower your blood pressure.
- Add some greenery. If you can’t get to nature easily, bring nature to you. Indoor plants offer similar benefits as their outdoor counterparts in helping you reduce stress. Certain plants like aloe, English ivy and bamboo palm are also great at purifying air, which helps improve your overall health.
- Laugh. Simply distracting yourself from whatever’s stressing you can be enough to relax your body and help your health. Laughing in particular is a great way to reduce stress—laughing increases oxygen intake, lowers adrenaline and cortisol, and puts your mind at ease.
How the Local 94 Health and Benefit Trust Fund Can Help
The Membership Assistance Program (MAP)
People under too much stress often turn to alcohol or drugs in order to cope. Substance abuse can be fatal and brings its own additional stressors to your life and the lives of those who care about you. If you are dealing with substance abuse and addiction in any way, you can find help in the Membership Assistance Program (MAP).
The MAP is comprised of Union members who provide support and intervention in regards to Substance Abuse and Alcohol Abuse. This support group meets at 4:00 pm at 331 West 44th (Training Fund entrance) every second Wednesday of the month. If you would like further assistance about this Program please call 212-331-1848.
Health and Benefit Trust Fund Medical Benefits
The Health and Benefit Trust Fund’s medical benefits cover mental health and substance abuse services. The Fund covers inpatient and outpatient services, such as therapist office visits or a stay at participating clinics, for both in- and out-of-network providers.
Want More Tips on Dealing with Stress?
Visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine page on stress for more information about how stress can affect you, identifying and reducing stressors and more.