Ever munched on a bucket of popcorn while watching a horror film? Or emptied a tub of ice cream even though you didn't mean to, when you got home late from work? Blame it on stress! 🀯

This article discusses whether stress is good or bad for you (there is 'good stress'!), how to recognize the symptoms of excessive stress and what you can do when stress is leaving you feeling de-motivated.

What causes stress in your body?

On a daily basis, everyone faces different situations that cause stress. Whether it's life in general including work, study, family, money, or specific things like worrying about traffic, or a health issue, or even what gift to buy for a friend for an upcoming birthday!

Do you know what else causes stress - poor sleep, bad food habits and even too much exercise!

Is stress really bad?

Stress is not necessarily a bad thing. Stress pushes you to prepare for those exams or finish your work within that ridiculous deadline! Stress gets you to react and stop yourself from falling when you skid on a wet floor, and stress makes you brake the car quickly when a child runs across the road in front of you. Stress gets you to be alert and react quickly in difficult situations, and helps you learn and get stronger. Exercise can be a good stress on your body.

The real question is - how much stress is too much?

Depending on your mental, emotional and physical make-up, the amount of stress you can handle positively may be different from what others can handle. If stress lasts for a long time (is chronic), it's likely that at some point it will become too much and you will not be able to recover from it quickly 😟 .

If this is the case, watch it! Chronic long-term stress can lead to a break-down and burn out. This is because chronic stress disrupts most systems in your body. It can suppress your immune system, upset your digestive and reproductive systems, and speed up the aging process. It can also leave you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. To make it worse, a common side effect of stress is overeating.

Image source: Precision Nutrition

In terms of your health, stress can actually get in the away of making progress and even cause weight gain. So its important to proactively deal with it (and not just hope it goes away!).

All stress factors should be considered together - so if you're in a place where your sleep habits are poor and work/ family stress is high, leaving you feeling de-energized, its probably not the best time to push your body too hard. It will only make matters worse.

So what should you do?

Think of what would relax you, and what is easily doable, here's a clue πŸ’ƒπŸ›€πŸŒοΈβ€β™€οΈπŸ€Έβ€β™€οΈ:

  • Deep breathing
  • Sleep in late
  • A spa day/ massage
  • Playing board games
  • Listening to relaxing music
  • A calming walk, preferably in a garden or out in nature (even a terrace with a view works)
  • Feeling the breeze at the seaside
  • A fun catch-up with friends/ family
  • Yoga, meditation or stretching exercises

In summary, managing stress is an important part of your life to ensure you don't burn out or end up anxious and worried all the time.

Don't forget the basics

  • Eat healthy: this strengthens your body's immune system, apart from giving it the necessary nutrition to thrive.
  • Balance your exercise schedule: don't do high-intensity workouts too often, throw in some stretching and low intensity days too (for example, a brisk walk or light yoga). Do workouts that leave you energized, not ready to faint.
  • Get enough sleep: this is an obvious one - try having a short nap if you need it, and you'll notice how refreshed you feel after. It's simple, it's free and it works.

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