Last modified: July 16, 2019
Richard Honaker M.D.View Full Profile
Manage stress and improve your mental well being in five easy steps!
We all have stress in our lives, between work, bills, current events and family life, many people are finding it harder and harder to manage their day to day stress.
Unfortunately, your body does not a good job distinguishing between emotional triggers and physical triggers. That means that a disagreement with a friend could produce the same impact on your body as a physical threat.
That is bad news since the impact of long-term stress can impact your sex life, from erectile dysfunction to lowering your sex drive. Stress also interferes with the reproductive systems of both men and women and may make it harder to conceive.
How Does Stress Affect the Body?
For immediate short-term reactions, stress can be beneficial to your health. It can help prepare your body for emergency and or dangerous situations by releasing hormones to quicken your breathing and heart rate and prepare your muscles for action.
Prolonged stress levels or chronic stress can take a toll on your sexual well being.
Stress can lead to symptoms such as:
- Drop in testosterone levels
- May increase the risk of infection of the prostate or testes
- Can lead to irregular, heavier or more painful periods
- May strengthen the symptoms of menopause
- Lower libido
- Inability to climax
- Makes the implantation of the fertilized egg more difficult
Everyone experiences some stress in their lives, but we can all benefit from proper stress management techniques. Check out the five best ways to lower your stress.
By putting physical stress on your body, you can actually help to alleviate your mental stress. This is extremely beneficial when you exercise regularly. People who regularly get their blood pumping are less likely to experience anxiety as those who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
This is because while you exercise your body lowers your stress hormones, such as cortisol, while releasing the feel good hormones-such as endorphins, which improve your mood.
Regular exercise can also lead to better sleep which can be impacted by stress and anxiety.
So the next time you have a bad day at work, why not picture your annoying coworker through a kickboxing class. Or take a long walk while you determine your best course of action in a complex problem? It’s a great way to get in shape while allowing yourself to blow off some steam.
2. Keep a Journal
Stress and anxiety is often tied to feeling overwhelmed. You may be feeling swamped with your responsibilities at work or home. Perhaps you are unable to keep up with your daily tasks and find yourself always running behind.
Often writing down your feelings or responsibilities can be the first step to stress relief. If you are overwhelmed with responsibilities at work or for an upcoming event, try writing a to-do list. You can write down all of your responsibilities and then cross them off one by one.
If you find you are feeling overwhelmed with your day-to-day activities, you can make a daily to-do list. If you are a caregiver, try to delegate any tasks that could be accomplished by others in order to lighten your load. This can help engage your partner or children and give them some personal responsibility.
Similarly, if you are overwhelmed at work, a rundown of your weekly responsibilities may offer the same opportunities. Perhaps a co-worker or assistant is not being fully utilized and would love the opportunity to assist you in some of your tasks. By writing it down you are able to delegate.
If you are overwhelmed with personal relationship issues, writing can also be helpful. If a personal relationship is causing you stress or emotional pain, consider writing a pros and cons list of keeping that person in your life. You can also write letters for closure which you may or may not choose to send. Often just writing the letter is the only closure you need.
3. Self Care
Now that you are making time to exercise and organizing and delegating your daily tasks, you have time for some self care. This means making time in the day for yourself.
Self care can mean:
- Getting up early to have 30 minutes to enjoy your coffee in silence
- Taking up a new hobby or learn a new skill
- Setting a strict bedtime in order to get adequate rest
- Relaxing in a bubble bath
A big part of personal care can also mean learning to say no. Overloading yourself by saying yes to every ask is detrimental to you and your mental health. Setting limits is healthy.
4. Eat Well
Eating a healthy diet and taking supplements can benefit not only your physical health but your mental health as well.
Many studies are indicating a strong connection between the health of your gut and the health of your brain.
In fact, a review of 13 studies indicated that patients showed more improvement in their digestive systems when treated with psychologically based approaches over traditional medical treatment.
One study determined that medical students that received Omega three supplements experienced a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms.
So take the time to plan meals that include foods you love enjoy from all the food groups. Try to incorporate new healthy ingredients and even try recipes from different cultures to discover new favorites. Ask your doctor if supplements are right for you and are safe to take with your current medications.
5. Have Sex
Sex may be the last thing on your mind after a stressful day, but it does often health benefits and stress relief.
Having sex tonight can make for a better day tomorrow. A study found that women who had positive sexual encounters reported less stress and better mood the next day. The better mood was also more likely to lead to another sexual encounter the next day.
Have a stressful event coming up? Just have sex first. Another study found that women who had recently had a positive sexual encounter demonstrated a lower baseline blood pressure rate or lower increase in blood pressure during stressful events.
Feeling Stressed? Connect with us!
No matter how overwhelmed you may be feeling, there is a way to find help. Connect with one of our doctors right now and know that you are not alone. If you are considering self-harm, call your local emergency services immediately.
Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.