I want you to imagine yourself walking through a temple. One where you keep adding and adding new things, but not letting the old things go. Eventually, you’re going to be stuck in a clutter of things, right? Now, I want you to remember the saying, “your body is your temple.” It’s a quote we’ve all heard, whether it be through a well-meaning parent, a Buddha-like karate instructor, or during a Sunday morning at church. It’s a quote that actually has some substance when it comes to your mental health.
When you pile too much on your shoulders, your mental health can wear on you physically and sometimes you don’t notice until it’s too late. It all comes down to science. When you feel like your calendar is piling up and there’s no time for you, it’s easy to push yourself to get things done, but eventually, that hypothalamus part of your brain is going to begin releasing its tiny little stress hormones.
These hormones are the same ones trigging your “flight or flight response,” designed to protect your body in an emergency situation by preparing you to react quickly, according to a medically reviewed article from Healthline. When the response keeps firing daily, though, it could put your health at serious risk.
Chronic stress can cause a variety of displeasing symptoms, including increased depression, headaches, heartburn, insomnia, a weakened immune system, high blood sugar, fertility problems, low sex drive, missed periods, erectile dysfunction, and tense muscles. These are signs to watch out for when you’re constantly on the go go go.
It can have an effect on your whole body and finding ways to lower stress and put yourself in the right mindset can sometimes be difficult. Learning to set healthy boundaries can change a lot when it comes to stress. Tell yourself it’s okay to say no because it really is. You need to be able to express your emotions in appropriate ways. One way to go about learning how to is to speak with a therapist or a close friend or family member. They may be able to give you good advice, techniques, or even help with the pile of things on your plate.
Dr. Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, has devoted much of his career to learning how people can counter the stress response with the use of a combination of approaches that elicit the relaxation response. These include deep abdominal breathing, focus on a soothing word (such as peace or calm), visualization of tranquil scenes, repetitive prayer, yoga, and tai chi.
Exercise, even just taking a walk when you’re stressed, can help to deepen your breathing and relieve unwanted muscle tension. Good nutrition is also a strong factor in the way we feel. Making sure you’re taking the time to eat a healthy, balanced diet can improve your mental health and stress levels to an extreme.
Just take some time for yourself. Do things you enjoy. Take a night to watch your favorite movie. Hell, take a day to yourself and do all of your favorite things. Go to a spa, get your nails painted and your hair done. Turn off your phone and just relax at home for a day. Whip out your favorite vibrator. Travel somewhere you’ve always wanted to. Curl up with a book and your favorite cup of tea. Learn to say no when you’re worn out.
Most importantly, do what you need to do to feel more you and take care of yourself.