Chronic stress occurs when persistent, unrelenting life stressors are experienced or when small stressors accumulate with the inability to recuperate. Both cause your body to be in constant response, which can lead to the development of a stress related disease. Every system whether the skeletomuscular, cardiovascular, or gastrointestional system in your body can be damaged by stress. Usually, one particular system is more prone to the negative effects of stress. Your body will isolate the effects of one particular system resulting in the development of diseases.
Some chronic stress related diseases and conditions include hypertension, osteoporosis, asthma, and infertility. Commonly, stress causes continuous release and depletion of norepinephrine, which results in depression and anxiety. Stress also worsens conditions already in your body such as chronic pain, arthritis, and diabetes. Overall, there is a strong correlation between stress and disease so it is crucial to understand how to prevent stress from decreasing our health.
One way to prevent chronic stress related diseases is to work towards achieving body awareness. Body awareness is the ability to understand how your body is operating and responding to various changes in your environment, health, or mental state. Below are five tips on how to work towards achieving body awareness.
Tips on how to achieve body awareness for reducing stress:
1. Make a schedule of recent experiences: List all of the recent changes that have occurred in your life and the level of stress the changes are causing. Some notable changes include: sleeping/eating habits, social activities, family dynamics, personal/work achievements, or financial issues. The purpose of writing a schedule is to increase your awareness of stressful events and how much stress they are causing in your life. Creating a schedule is the crucial first step in taking the necessary to reducing the level of stress you experience.
2. Take a body inventory: Focus your attention to the physical sensations your body experiences. Are you tense in certain areas? Ask yourself how effectively your body is operating. An effective method is to create a symptom checklist. What irregularities, discomforts, or complications are you experiencing in your body? Scan your body and record how it is operating. Taking a body inventory will help you better understand what areas are feeling the effects of stress.
3. Find your sources of stress –Everyone has stress in their life. The stress you experience can be either good stress or bad stress. Both of which occur in everyday life. Determining what are your stressors is an important step in learning how to better handle this stress. The stress you experience can derive from various different stressors. Most commonly the stress you experience derives from stress from your environment, social demands, physiological, or from your own thoughts and feelings. An easy way to find out what stresses you out is to create a stress awareness diary. A stress awareness diary will help you keep track of when you are feeling anxious, tense, or overwhelmed. When you experience these feelings record what you are doing, when you are doing it, and how long these feelings persist. Tracking your stress is the best way to find out what are your main stressors.
4. Identify how are you currently handling stress: The way you are currently manage stress is important for understanding how to appropriately cope with stress. List the ways you react to stress. Do you sleep, joke, worry, seek guidance, or ignore your stressors completely? Once you find out what you are doing then try to determine if they are good or bad methods. Are your strategies helping or worsening your body’s reaction to stress? Record which methods result in the greatest relief from stress. This step is crucial in understanding what you are doing and learning what you can do instead to help. Some common stress relief techniques include: breathing, progressive relaxation, meditation, visualization, and applied relaxation.
5. Set goals: Plan how you are going to handle your stressors. If you do have a disease as a result of stress make sure to communicate these goals you’re your doctor. Discussing your goals with others such as your doctor will help you be accountable for the goals you create for yourself. Set a goal that determines how, when, and why you are going to reduce your stressors. Your goals will help you focus on the results you wish to achieve in order to reduce your stress.