Stress is often called the silent killer, there are many negative effects of stress on the body:
- Muscle tension or pain
- Chest pain
- Change in sex drive
- Stomach upset
- Sleep problems
Common effects of stress on your mood
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Irritability or anger
- Sadness or depression
Common effects of stress on your behavior
- Overeating or undereating
- Angry outbursts
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Tobacco use
- Social withdrawal
- Exercising less often
You should also know that stress will affect everyone and will impact those around you. Some people can see the signs of stress impacting them, and are quick to make changes to alleviate that stress while others struggle along unsure of what to do.
It is important to remember that not all stress is bad, the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) says this on the topic of stress:
Stress can motivate people to prepare or perform, like when they need to take a test or interview for a new job. Stress can even be life-saving in some situations. In response to danger, your body prepares to face a threat or flee to safety. In these situations, your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense, your brain uses more oxygen and increases activity—all functions aimed at survival.
Long-term stress can harm your health and it is important to know the signs so that you can take action, especially if you have taken steps to alleviate the stress and are still facing it regularly. Over time continued stress will put a strain on your body and will lead to serious health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and other illnesses. Stress can even lead to mental disorders like depression or anxiety.
Fortunately there are simple, and effective ways to handle stress.
One of the first things is to recognize the signs of stress, speak to your doctor or health provider. Introducing regular exercise can help direct that stress to something productive.
Given that virtually everyone has a smart phone today, there are hundreds of apps available that will help you with relaxation activities, we’ve provided a list of some of the best apps below and some other recognized products that can help deal with stress.
- Recognize the Signs of your body’s response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy.
- Talk to Your Doctor or Health Care Provider. Get proper health care for existing or new health problems.
- Get Regular Exercise. Just 30 minutes per day of walking can help boost your mood and reduce stress.
- Try a Relaxing Activity. Explore stress coping programs, which may incorporate meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other gentle exercises. For some stress-related conditions, these approaches are used in addition to other forms of treatment. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy and relaxing activities. Learn more about these techniques on the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) website at (www.nccih.nih.gov/health/stress).
- Set Goals and Priorities. Decide what must get done and what can wait, and learn to say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload. Note what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
- Stay Connected with people who can provide emotional and other support. To reduce stress, ask for help from friends, family, and community or religious organizations.
To learn more about how stress can affect you, visit the National Institute of Mental Health.
Top App for Your Smartphone to Help with Relaxation
An EXCELLENT app, Calm provides superb background music and visuals to help you rest and relax after a particularly stressful day or event.
Stress Busting Products
The Zonli is a unique product, it is a weighted blanket.
- Comfortable and soft, 100% cotton weighted blanket for adults.
- It is a weighted blanket without removable cover.
- The weight is distributed evenly throughout the blanket and made up of non-toxic poly pellets.
- Hand wash or delicate cycle and dry flat. Or you can add cover Easy to spot clean.
- A great gift for you and your loved ones. The heavy blanket helps relax the nervous system by simulating the feeling of being held or hugged and make you fall asleep fast and sleep better.
The Harkla Weighted Blanket is another product available, that comes in various weights from 5lbs to 25lbs and comes with a lifetime guarantee.
- THE SENSE OF CALM YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR: Our duvet style weighted blanket will give you the calming feel of pressure they need – For people who weigh 200 or more pounds (comes in various weights from 5lbs to 25lbs).
- FINALLY HELP GET TO SLEEP QUICKLY: The weight from our blankets helps the body feel calm and relaxed, making falling asleep much easier.
- EASY TO WASH & DRY: With our 2-piece cover & padding, it is easy to remove the top layer to wash & dry. The soft minky fabric stays soft with washing.
- GREAT FOR SENSORY INPUT: Not only is the weight helpful, the soft minky fabric is great input. We’ve even added dots on top for extra sensory input.
- LIFETIME MONEY BACK GUARANTEE: We don’t mess around with our guarantees. Unless you are 100% satisfied, we aren’t satisfied either.
Do weighted blankets help? According to the PTSD Journal, the answer is YES!
In fact a study by the PTSD Journal found that sleeping with a weighted blanket helps insomnia, and anxiety. According to their website:
A weighted blanket molds to your body like a warm hug. The pressure also helps relax the nervous system. It’s a totally safe and effective non-drug therapy for sleep and relaxation naturally. Psychiatric, trauma, geriatric, and pediatric hospital units use weighted blankets to calm a patient’s anxiety and promote deep, restful sleep. In a similar way to swaddling comforting an infant, the weight and pressure on an adult provides comfort and relief.
When pressure is gently applied to the body, it encourages serotonin production, which lifts your mood. When serotonin naturally converts to melatonin, your body takes the cue to rest.
Weighted blankets are typically “weighted” with plastic poly pellets that are sewn into compartments throughout the blanket to keep the weight properly distributed. The weight of the blanket acts as deep touch therapy and acts on deep pressure touch receptors located all over your body. When these receptors are stimulated, the body relaxes and feels more grounded and safe, and clinical studies suggest that when deep pressure points are triggered they actually cause the brain to increase serotonin production.
Weighted blankets are especially effective at alleviating anxiety. A 2008 study published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health showed that weighted blankets offered safe and effective therapy for decreasing anxiety in patients. These results were confirmed in a 2012 study published in Australasian Psychiatry, which indicated that weighted blankets successfully decreased distress and visible signs of anxiety.
What Weight of Blanket Do I Need?
Depending on your body weight, you may need a lighter or heavier blanket. Use this convenient chart to determine the weight of blanket that you need:
|Body Weight in lbs||Blanket Weight in lbs||Product Information|
|20 – 40||3 – 6||Recommended 5lbs weighted blanket|
|30 – 50||4 – 7||Recommended 5lbs weighted blanket|
|50 – 70||6 – 9||Recommended 10lbs weighted blanket|
|70 – 90||8 – 11||Recommended 10lbs weighted blanket|
|90 – 110||10 – 13||Recommended 10lbs weighted blanket|
|110 – 120||11 – 12||Recommended 10lbs weighted blanket|
|120 – 130||12 – 13||Recommended 10lbs weighted blanket|
|140 – 160||13 – 14||Recommended 10lbs weighted blanket|
|160 – 180||14 – 16||Recommended 10lbs weighted blanket|
|180 – 200||18 – 20||Recommended 20lbs weighted blanket|
|200 or more||20 – 25||Recommended 25lbs weighted blanket|
These are only suggestions, you can use a heavier blanket if you wish. If you are buying for a child, you should stick to the recommended weight so as to not overwhelm them with weight.
10 Ways to Relieve Stress
- Identify stressors (identify stress triggers). They are all around us, paying bills, finances, work, relationships. By identifying them, you will be better able to deal with them. Stress will not go away, we just need to find ways to deal with them so that they do not impact our lives significantly.
- Exercise – while we need exercise to maintain a healthy body, you can also use that time to help relieve stress that you are dealing with. Exercise gets your mind off of the stressors and to concentrate on what you are doing. If at work you are feeling stressed, just get up from your desk and move around – a walk to the kitchen or around the office can help dispel some of that stress.
- Cry sometimes – in fact recently published in Motivation and Emotion, a good cry can help relieve stress!
- Try not to be perfect all the time, there can be some solace in imperfection.
- Schedule time for yourself. Everyone needs “me” time even if you are in a relationship. There is nothing wrong with doing things on your own, away from your partner or family.
- Be prepared to deal with the stress when it happens.
- Keep a journal, a growing body of evidence is showing that making a note of a stressful event allows people to cope with the event. An article from 2002 by the American Psychological Association says that “helping people manage and learn from negative experiences, writing strengthens their immune systems as well as their minds.”.
- Stay hydrated! Stress affects your body in many ways, by keeping hydrated keeps you healthy and may help combat fatigue.
- Say NO! Yes, it is OK to say NO. NO to a function or event, NO to taking on extra work, NO to working overtime. If you say YES to everything, you will find yourself stressed out.
- Do something healthy everyday, you will feel good about yourself AND will be doing something good for your body, mind and soul.