Adversity comes in many forms, we are all at one time or another are thrown one of life’s curve balls. Whether it be divorce, job loss, injury, illness, break ups, or financial catastrophe, these life events are well documented as being seriously stressful. It is said that divorce is the second most stressful life event after death of an immediate family member. We for the most part as humans are not great at dealing with unexpected life events, and our bodies will often go into stress mode for long unhealthy periods of time.
Stress can wreak havoc on your body and health, your nervous system can release too much adrenaline, and cortisol increasing your odds of depression which to some extend you are already dealing with from adversity. Your respiratory system takes a beating as you could experience shortness of breathe. Your heart can enter a long period of beating faster which in turn can cause an increase in heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Your over all immune system will start to decline, leaving you more susceptible to illnesses and infections. Your digestive system will also possibly leaving you with dry mouth, indigestion, nausea, and diarrhea. Lastly chronic stress can lead to all kinds of muscular aches and pains caused by tensing your body for long periods of time.
The irony of adversity, is that it is the time of our life’s we really need to focus on helping our bodies stay healthy, but our natural reaction to stress is often the opposite. We may be tempted to eat nothing, barely sleep, drink too much or engage in other activities that amplify stress. It is often quite easy to spot the person in the office going through a divorce, or other stressful life event, they will often have lost weight and look like they haven’t slept for a week, because often they haven’t. Stress and sadness after and during adversity will often kill off our desire to do anything for ourselves. In reality you can help lessen the symptoms of stress by following some pretty simple steps.
- Eat a well-balanced diet and eat regular times during the day, when your body and brain receive the nutrients and calories they need they function better and help you see things clearer. Try to keep alcohol and caffeine to a minimum also.
- Sleep, sleep is vitally important to health, during my own divorce I barely slept, which I assure you only made everything far worse. Being overly tired, groggy and having a foggy brain will only increase the feelings of sadness and depression and will hinder you making wise decisions in life. Try to sleep regular hours and for at least seven hours a night.
- Exercise, exercise in my opinion is not given enough credit for being a natural anti-depressant. It releases endorphin’s in your body which naturally make you happier and feel better. It also comes with a side of looking great, so what’s not to love about that!
- Breathe, simple you would think, but during stress we often don’t take full deep breathes or take time to regulate our breathe. Breathing deeply and slowly, decreases stress and increases oxygen levels, in a few minutes a day you can feel significantly better.
- Gratitude, gratitude is a very healthy thing to practice during adversity, it is very easy to spend all day focusing on what we lost or what events we perceive to have damaged our life, but focusing on negativity does little to fix the event or help you move forward healthier. When you train your mind to focus on gratitude your stress levels will decrease over time and you will be much closer to a happier new life.
Remember during times of stress you are not alone, no matter what you are experiencing chances are millions of others have also, and survived. Realize what ever you feel is normal, and try where possible to practice self love and care. Treating your body and mind well during adversity may not cure it instantly but it will keep you healthier. Your body and mind deserve to be treated kindly by you, even if perhaps the world around you doesn’t seem so kind at times, so try to put your self and your health first, for a happier future.
Originally published at medium.com