When stress spikes, most of us are acutely aware. We suddenly find ourselves facing down sleepless nights, upset stomachs, short tempers, and anxiety-ridden days. These physical indicators can make it feel like carrying any stress in our lives might be impossible to miss. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Although our bodies are really great at informing us when we’re dealing with periods of extreme stress, it can actually be incredibly easy to ignore day-to-day stress or even periods of moderately heightened stress. When we live busy or stressful lives, we can often find ourselves downplaying or ignoring the symptoms that pop up, because we think it isn’t that big of a deal.
What is Stress?
Stress is the body’s automatic response to changes in a situation. When we find ourselves in a new place or facing new circumstances, our brain tells our autonomic nervous system how to regulate the body to keep us alert. Our heart rate speeds up, our vision becomes more aware, and our body enters fight or flight mode until we can become more comfortable and feel more secure in our environment.
Typically, this short-term response is great! It can help keep us safe when we find ourselves in tricky or dangerous situations. But when the short term becomes long term and temporary stress becomes chronic, we start to run into major problems.
During periods of extreme stress, it can be incredibly easy to identify what’s happening in our bodies because it feels so vastly different from how we normally feel. When we experience lower levels of stress over long periods of time, it can be much harder to identify physical and mental symptoms.
Physical symptoms of stress can include:
- Aches and pains like muscular tension, joint pains, inflammation
- Chest pains or feeling like your heart is racing
- Exhaustion and difficulty sleeping
- Clenching your jaw or neck
- Indigestion or other signs of an upset stomach
- Getting sick more frequently as a result of a weakened immune system
Mental and emotional symptoms can include:
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Executive dysfunction
These less subtle symptoms can creep up on us over time if we’re not careful and can damage our long-term health goals. It can even result in attempting to manage it with unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs and alcohol.
There’s no singular diagnosis for stress. Only you can evaluate how you feel and decide when it’s time to get some help, which is often easier said than done. Chatting with your doctor or other healthcare providers can be a great first step toward healing and reducing stress.
How to Cope
Ready to make a change and live a healthier stress-free life? The good news is that it’s easier than you probably even realize and it doesn’t require too many difficult lifestyle changes!
Learning how to stay present in the current moment is one of our biggest mental defenses against stress. This can seem like a tricky habit to develop, but practices for putting it into place are actually pretty small and simple. Writing down a few things that you feel grateful for, reflecting on the best parts of your day, or listing out the names of people who love you are just three small mindfulness practices that can have a huge impact in helping you refocus and destress.
Moving our bodies is a wonderful way to reduce stress and recenter. You don’t need to be an Olympic track star to see results, either. A quick walk around the block or doing a few simple stretches at home can be a great way to get your blood moving and release your pent-up stress.
Set Attainable Goals
Visualizing exactly what you’ve got on your plate can be a wonderful tool for mitigating stress. When we see our goals broken down into realistic, bite-sized chunks, it becomes much easier to focus on managing one thing at a time, instead of becoming overwhelmed by the long list of to-dos.
Quieting your mind for less than five minutes a day has been proven to lower blood pressure and reduce stress. If you’re interested in learning how to meditate, there are many phone apps, youtube videos, and even podcasts that can help you learn to re-center and breathe, for free!
Dedicated Self-Care Time
Self-care can take many forms. It’s an individualized habit that we learn to build over time by figuring out what feels good to us. Some people like to read a book or take a hot bath while others might go out to a coffee shop or take in a movie. But, if you’ve been living with stress for a while, it can be tough to know where to start. We’ve gathered up a few go-to suggestions to help get the ball rolling.
- Curate a quiet space: Dim the lights, turn on some soothing music, and light a scented candle.
- Make a healthy snack: Set aside time to sip a light, refreshing beverage while munching on your favorite sliced fruit or veggie
- Bring the spa to you: Getting a massage or scheduling salon services are perfect for reducing stress while caring for your body. With Soothe, we can bring those services right to your door with no extra stress.
Spa, at Home
If you’re interested in bringing a spa-quality massage or salon experience but unsure which service is right for you, we’ve put together a list of our favorite stress-busting options offered here at Soothe.
- Swedish massage: This massage technique combines soft, long, kneading strokes and shorter tapping strokes to help reduce muscle pressure and ease tension in the body. 60 minutes, once a week can have huge long-term benefits to your overall stress levels.
- Deep Tissue massage: Working the body at a slightly higher intensity, deep tissue massage pinpoints precise areas of muscle tension in order to relieve pain
- Anti-stress facial: Reduces inflammation and helps repair skin from the damage done by environmental stressors, all while helping you relax and rejuvenate
- Hydrating facial: Uncomfortable, dry skin can lead to breakouts or stiffness in the face, making it difficult to settle down and feel your best. A hydrating facial is perfect for replenishing your skin’s moisture and reducing discomfort
- Haircut at home: Instead of trying to cram a visit to the stylist into your busy schedule, bring the stylist to you! They’ll help keep you looking and feeling fresh without adding any new stress to your plate.
- CBD add-on: CBD works to penetrate the skin’s surface and naturally reduce muscular inflammation and tension, making it easier to get the most out of any massage service you book.
Download the Soothe app or check out the Soothe website for more booking options. Plus, when you book, your provider can meet you wherever is most convenient: home, work, or even a hotel if you’re a regular road warrior! They’ll bring everything they need to provide you with a spa-quality service, so you can relax and focus on feeling less stressed.