Integrative Nutrition Blog

Top 5 Causes of Stress and How to Manage

October 27, 2016

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Stress is an inevitable part of life – it has been around long before technology and our modern worries. But while some temporary stress is normal as various circumstances arise, experiencing stress as a never-ending part of your daily routine is harmful to both your physical and mental well-being.

Below are some of the top situations that cause stress and how to manage them.

Be patient with yourself, busting stress takes time. The act of bringing awareness to your common stressors and creating a plan to address them will empower you to control your stress so it doesn’t control you!

Money
According to a survey of over 3,000 Americans, money is the #1 cause of stress. This is no surprise, since money directly relates to our basic necessities for survival, and to our ability to live with freedom and comfort. But if money is tight, worrying about it doesn’t help. In fact, stress can make the problem worse by causing fatigue, headaches, and thwarting creative thinking.  To help reduce money woes, it’s important to step back and create a financial plan that works for you. Maybe that involves meeting with a financial planner, defining and cutting unnecessary costs, or even investing in training to strengthen your future job prospects. Take the time to assess your monthly budget, make some decisions on what can change, and then stick with a plan that will lead to greater abundance over time. Remember, cutting small costs like your morning cup of Joe or evening yoga class really add up to long-lasting savings over time.

Work and Career
Work is another common stressor. We’re not always fortunate enough to have jobs that we love, with amazing co-workers, and a great salary, but you do have more control than you think. First, it’s important to narrow down what specifically is causing you stress at your workplace. Is the work itself not fulfilling? A harsh management style? Lack of support? Unclear expectations? Or something else? Once you determine the problem, it becomes easier to make a conscious effort to address that particular issue through honest and respectful dialogue or seeking a new position that that might be a better fit. Making small changes at work, like taking an afternoon walk or buying an orchid for your desk – go a long way. It’s important to find a way to love the work you do, especially if you can’t do the work you love immediately. Overall, your job should make you feel happy and healthy!

Family
Relationships, whether with our partners, friends, or family, can become stressful when disagreements occur. One surprising way to alleviate stress when difficult situations arise is to change your reaction into a response. “Reacting” is an automatic, emotional, knee-jerk action, while “responding” is a slower, more thoughtful, and solution-oriented action. After a disagreement, take a moment to consider your response to the issue before you continue the discussion. Before entering possibly stressful situations, try a short breathing exercise or meditation that can greatly impact your emotional responses in a positive way. Remember, life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it!

Health
Health challenges can be incredibly stressful for a variety of reasons. They can require time off from work, difficult decisions about treatment or medication, changes in diet or habits, not feeling well enough to enjoy life, and navigating complex healthcare and insurance systems! It’s tough. But one thing you do have a say in is just how stressed out you allow yourself to become about these things. You may not be able to change your body, but you can change your thoughts, which will have a direct impact on both your physical and mental health. Feeling like you have a sense of control is a saving grace in a health crisis. So empower yourself with information, a treatment plan, being surrounded by positive and competent professionals, and doing what you can do to stay calm as you take gradual steps towards regaining your health. You know your body best – be kind to yourself and stand up for yourself – it’s important to listen to your body and be your own health advocate when experiencing stressful health challenges.

News
If you’ve been tuned into what’s going on in the world lately, then you’ve probably felt overwhelmed and stressed about something. The news can do that, big time. Our response tends to be watching more news, complaining about it, and feeling fear or despair. Instead, try staying informed, but limiting your news consumption to certain times of day rather than clicking on everything you see on social media. Try balancing traditional news sites like CNN with sites dedicated to “good news” like the Good News Network or the Good News section of the Huffington Post to regain hope and optimism. And don’t forget to get involved in positive change however you can.

Stress can creep into our lives in many ways, but we can actively take steps to minimize it. Once we are able to successfully manage our emotional responses to stressful situations, it becomes easier for us to develop action plans for moving forward.

How do you manage your everyday stress? Share with us in the comments below!

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