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Stress Management: What stress does to your body and how to reduce it.
Some forms of stress are not harmful to our body such as the stress we feel before an exam or work project deadline. Other forms of stress, especially if you experience chronic stress, can work against our body, and contribute to the development of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. This is not your fault and, in many cases, the stress you experience is beyond your control. Some of these uncontrollable factors may include inflation and the financial hardships that come with it, a traumatic experience that happened to you, social injustice that may have happened to you because of your race, age, gender, sexuality, economic status, language, immigration status, ability, religion, or an intersection of several of these factors. There may be several other factors that you have no control over. During times when we have no control over the stressful events that occur, it is important to focus on the things that we can control. Here are some strategies that may help reduce the impact of stress on your body, below. It is perfectly ok to modify some of these strategies to make them work with your current situation. Even if you are only able to practice one of the strategies, it is better than none.
1. Connect with others. You can do this by reaching out through Facebook chat, calling someone, attending a support group, or getting outside in nature with another person or group. Perhaps you have an Elder or spiritual leader in your community with whom you connect very well.
2. Engage in a hobby. What is something that you really enjoy doing? Making time to participate in an activity that brings you joy can actively reduce stress. Sometimes this means saying no to something, but it can be worth it!
3. Moving your body in some way is a great way to reduce or relieve stress. If you have physical limitations, finding exercises that work for your current ability is important. These may include leg lifts or arm extensions while laying in bed.
4. Nourish your body. Research shows that eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and lentils can improve your body’s response to stress and help prevent stress from occurring. Acknowledging that it may not be financially feasible for some folks to buy fresh produce, incorporating it into your diet as often as possible for your situation is better than nothing. Frozen produce and communal cooking may be alternatives to consider.
5. Talk to a Professional. Do you feel like stress is taking over your life? Is it difficult to participate in stress reducing activities due to financial barriers? Maybe you feel unmotivated to engage in activities? Whatever your case may be, a professional such as a social worker or psychotherapist may be able to support you. You can also contact us at Support Services so that we can help you in your search for financial aide, brainstorm together, and work through some of the barriers you are experiencing. Sometimes you just need a non-judgemental, compassionate person to sit with, and we can be that resource for you.