However, according to the American Psychological Association, consistent or extreme stress can be harmful to your health.
While your body’s natural defenses are equipped to handle small and common periods of stress, chronic stress has been known to lead to high blood pressure, anxiety, obesity and insomnia.
Chronic stress has even been attributed to major illnesses including heart disease, research has found. Oftentimes, those experiencing extreme stress turn toward unhealthy methods of coping. Habits such as overeating, using drugs or alcohol, working too hard, spending excessive time alone and similar unhealthy practices in turn lead to poor health outcomes.
Here at the Pritikin Longevity Center, we promote a healthy mind and body connection by teaching you how to manage and cope with stress. Pritikin’s Dr. Coral Arvon, psychologist and Director of Behavioral Health and Wellness, teaches guests how to use their minds to improve their health. “When you have the ability to reduce negative stress and cope with disturbing feelings like anger and anxiety, reaching your health and lifestyle goals becomes much easier,” explained Dr. Arvon.
In addition to support networks and relaxation techniques, Pritikin offers five seminars that can help enhance your emotional well-being:
- Healthy Mind, Healthy Body
- New Thoughts, New Behaviors
- Taking Charge of Stress
- Listening and Being Heard
- Managing Your Moods
According to the APA, everyday stressors that are too often ignored, or inadequately dealt with, can amount to this kind of chronic stress. The good news is that there are a number of simple ways to reduce the moments and feelings of stress in your everyday life.
Simple ways to reduce stress
Just as the experience of stress itself is different for everyone, the factors and triggers that cause it vary as well. However, if you know the situations and environments that enhance your stress levels, you can effectively handle them. When you are fully aware and in tune with your body and its natural responses, you can take preventive measures to avoid feelings of stress in the first place.
Get enough sleep
Ensuring that you get a quality night’s sleep as often as possible is not only beneficial to your overall health, but to your emotional well-being as well. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation’s inaugural Sleep Health Index™ poll found that those who reported poor quality sleep also experienced high stress and a low life satisfaction. While getting the recommended seven or eight hours of sleep each night is important, the quality of sleep that you get is just as crucial.
Engage in physical activity
According to the American Heart Association, engaging in physical activity each day can relieve both physical and mental tension. Adults who are regularly active are at a lower risk for depression. Physical activity does not have to mean running a marathon or participating in a high-intensity workout class. Staying active can be as simple as talking a walk, dancing, swimming or riding a bicycle. At Pritikin, we offer exercise classes for all fitness levels.
Plan and prepare
Being prepared by planning ahead is a great method for preventing stress. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ resource center suggested staying organized and making a list of how and when you will tackle each item. When a stressful event is on the horizon, picture yourself in that interview, giving that speech or participating in that competition and imagine yourself succeeding.
Become your own coach and mentor
“Our coaches and mentors were often important people in our lives. They encouraged and believed in us. They recognized our strengths. When the going got tough, they were the people we relied on to talk us through it. Similarly, when you’re feeling discouraged or frustrated, be your own coach or mentor. Imagine what they would have said to you. Embrace it,” said Dr. Arvon. “This inner pep talk can help you replace negative thoughts with positive ones.”
Additional remedies to reduce stress
There are times when all of the sleep, planning and preparing in the world won’t be able to prevent stress altogether. When it happens, don’t panic. Instead, take a deep breath and practice one of these natural remedies for relieving and managing stress.
When life starts to feel overwhelming, the best piece of advice is to slow down. Take the time to stop, take a deep breath and just be in the moment. Deep breathing can help clear your mind as well as relax your muscles. The AHA has recommended pacing yourself instead of racing through life.
Eliminate bad habits
The AHA also advised giving up unhealthy habits such as consuming too much alcohol and smoking. If you drink, do so in moderation. According to the Pritikin Eating Plan, moderation means up to 4 drinks per week for women, with no more than one half to one drink per day. For men, this means up to seven drinks per week, with no more than one to two drinks per day.
Spend time outside
It’s important to spend time in nature whenever you can. The fresh air and natural surroundings can calm you down, help you relax and even lift your mood.
The Mayo Clinic has reported that in addition to calming your body and mind and helping you to find your inner peace, the act of meditating has a number of emotional benefits as well. Meditation can increase self-awareness, help you focus on the present, reduce negative feelings and provide a new perspective on stressful situations. Additionally, some research has shown that meditating can help people manage symptoms of illnesses such as depression, heart disease, high blood pressure and sleep problems.
Release feelings of stress
When emotions remain bottled up, they can take a toll on your emotional health. Releasing your feelings of stress by talking with a loved one or writing are great practices. If you’re a vocal person, try talking your concerns or problems through with a family member or friend. If you tend to be more of a private person, writing down your thoughts in a journal can help you recognize and work through your stress.
Enjoy and have fun
No matter what, the most important thing in life is, enjoy it. Do the things that you truly enjoy, laugh hard, laugh a lot, and, most of all, have fun. That’s why at Pritikin, we offer a number of ways for you to enjoy yourself – from our golf courses and spa, to all of the attractions that Miami has to offer.
Book a stay at the Pritikin Longevity Center and follow the journey that can help enhance your emotional well-being.