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10 Signs that Stress is Harmful to your Health and 10 Positive Changes You can Make

Prevent stress by taking these steps towards better health.

I know a lot of entrepreneurs. These are people in my neighborhood that left working in a corporate position to work for themselves. In every case, they were unhappy with their lifestyle and passionate about something else, so they created an opportunity to start their own business. I see them often in my local coffeehouse and we talk about business ideas and how things are going.

You might think that when you make a move such as this, you leave stress behind. This actually is not the case. Speaking from my own entrepreneurial experience, I can say that stress is a daily factor of my life. Juggling many different things regularly, completing daily activities as well as making time for future planning all can create stress. But, the one thing that distinguishes it from the stress of my past is that it’s “good stress.”

Good stress? What is that?

When you love what you do, you want to do it well. This desire can create a certain amount of stress. It’s a motivator; it’s a way of bringing all your attention and focus to one thing and applying yourself fully. When you do this, it can create a sensation in the body that includes increased heart rate, sweating and a heightened sense of focus. If you consider an athlete getting ready to perform or even yourself before you do a presentation to a group, this may be what you experience. In this situation, your stress is helping you stay on task.

However, when you experience the more harmful signs of stress, you put your body and mind at risk. You set yourself up for sickness and disease. You weaken your body’s defenses. So, it’s critical that you know the signs of “bad” stress so you can take active steps to do something to decrease the stress in your life.

 Here are some of the signs of harmful stress:

  1. You have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or you wake up feeling exhausted.
  2. You experience a racing heart accompanied by feelings of panic.
  3. You worry about your future.
  4. You are short with people and have quick, angry reactions to anything negative that happens during the day.
  5. You have difficulty concentrating.
  6. You don’t feel any enjoyment doing something that you used to love doing.
  7. You have an upset stomach regularly and find yourself mindlessly eating sweets or salty foods.
  8. You have lower back pain or other pains in your muscles that you didn’t have before.
  9. You are forgetful and lose things often.
  10. You feel powerless to change your situation.

So, what can you do?

Here is a short list of 10 healthy steps you can take:

  1. Acknowledge you have a problem.
  2. See your general medical physician for an appointment. Be honest with your doctor about how you’re feeling.
  3. Spend 10 minutes a day in peace and quiet. If you know how to meditate, do it. If you do not, see my website, www.barebonesyoga.com, for my meditation video and it will guide you through a short meditation.
  4. Spend half an hour every day doing something you love. Read, write, watch a funny show, be creative or call someone you love.
  5. Ask for help. Reach out to someone you can trust and share how you feel.
  6. Exercise. One of the best ways to relieve stress is to move your body.
  7. Set up your bedroom so it’s ready for a good night’s rest. If that means buying new sheets, moving out your TV or buying a favorite book to read before bedtime, do it.
  8. Meet with a wellness coach or mentor and map out some active steps to move your life in a positive direction.
  9. Start writing in a journal. Reach for it anytime you feel a craving for something unhealthy.
  10. Have faith. Choose to believe that things will improve, even if you’re not sure how.

Stress can often make us feel trapped and immobile. It often takes one step forward in a positive direction to break the pattern. Start small. Talk to a friend. Find a neighbor you can trust and someone you see often. Share a little about your situation and you may just find that someone you see every day can be a support. Taking that first step can be the change you need to positively change your life! 

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