Stress is inevitable and typically out of our control. Most of us don’t think much about it, brushing it off as “just part of life.” While that may be true, stress can wreak havoc on your health. For me it is my number one trigger for extreme low’s and highs, but did you know stress can also:
-increase your blood pressure
-increase your LDL (or “bad” cholesterol)
-lead to weight gain (not just from stress eating, but stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol, which can lead to belly fat)
-lower your immune system
-lead to insomnia
-cause rapid aging (just look at any US president’s before and after office pictures; poor guys)
-cause an imbalance in your insulin levels
While we cannot always control the things life throws at us we CAN control how we react to stressors. And for me I can simplify things even further by saying I can control my bipolar by controlling my stress.
Here are some tips for controlling stress:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat 3 meals a day, each with lean protein, even if you’re not hungry.
- Go to bed at a normal hour.
- Add in some relaxation techniques.
- Learn to let things go.
- Set personal boundaries and guard them as your top priority.
- Have a mantra. Whether it’s a quotation, bible verse, or positive thought, when the sh*t hits the fan say it over and over. “It’s no big deal. It’s no big deal. It’s no big deal.”
When you change how you think about things, you can change how you respond, and thus change the impact of stress on your life. In a stressful situation, learn to stop and ask yourself why. Why are you upset? Are you being truly rational in your interpretation of the situation? (for those of us with a mental illness, it can be helpful to have someone you trust and respect to as this question to) How can you calmly react?
Stop. Reflect. Know yourself. React.
All of the aforementioned tips are scientifically backed and very important to stress management, but if I had to give the most important I’d say BOUNDARIES!
Easier said than done, right? But knowing and respecting your limits can be the difference between successfully making it through the day and nervous breakdown. (I might add I am very familiar with both scenarios, and there is no shame in the nervous breakdown! I don’t judge! J Sometimes you just need to freak out, but give yourself a time limit. Once you reach your limit move on and don’t give the situation more power on you than it deserves.) You are bigger than your circumstances. Our God is so much bigger than what you face!
As a side note: I found a great article on Yahoo! on 11 Warning Signs of Depression; I sent it to my husband (who is currently on South Africa). I think it has some great insights for those who live with or love someone with bipolar and depression.