Uncertainty is everywhere in our lives today. Global food security is at risk. People are talking about World War III. The Covid pandemic is leading to an economic meltdown. There is chaos everywhere. The effects are individual as well as collective.
We are facing undesirable circumstances daily. Certain situations are beyond our control. Then there are social, economic, and occupational pressures.
All these situations arouse negative emotions like fear, anger, and frustration, to name a few. These negative emotions lead to stress and anxiety. The global population is going through the worst times concerning stress and anxiety.
Latest studies in the US show the majority of Americans are reporting high levels of stress due to inflation, financial issues, the Covid pandemic, and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Moreover, 75%–90% of visits to a health facility are related to stress. 80% of people around the globe feel stressed at the workplace, and 77% encounter physical health problems related to stress.
Stress vs anxiety
Stress and anxiety have overlapping symptoms. But both are different in causes and severity of the symptoms. Stress has external causes such as missing a work deadline, fighting with a loved one, the death of someone close, or a chronic medical condition.
Anxiety is the persistent state of worry, fear, or unease. It can be a reaction to the stress or sometimes present without any apparent external cause.
Stress and anxiety are not always bad. Sometimes it helps you to accomplish impossible tasks. However, persistent stress and anxiety can affect your daily life and cause physical illness.
Symptoms of stress and anxiety
Both stress and anxiety have almost identical symptoms. They can be mental such as irritation, anger, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, or physical such as fatigue, headache, muscle pain, etc.
Effects of stress and anxiety on physical health
A little stress and anxiety are nothing to be worried about. However, long-term chronic stress and anxiety can cause physical health issues. Following are the physical health problems caused by chronic stress and anxiety.
- Cardiovascular problems. High blood pressure, chest pain, coronary artery-blocking, heart attack, stroke.
- Weight problems. Some people eat more and some less as a response to stress and anxiety. It causes weight gain or extreme weight loss.
- Gastrointestinal problems. Digestive problems such as nausea, gastritis, loss of appetite, and stomachache can be caused by prolonged stress and anxiety. It also causes urine inconsistency, diarrhoea, and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Respiratory problems. Shallow breathing, obstructive pulmonary disease, and worse asthma conditions.
- Muscular problems. Unexplained aches, muscle pain, and muscle tension are caused by stress and anxiety.
- Reproductive problems. Stress and anxiety can result in menstrual problems, sexual dysfunction, impotence, and premature ejaculation.
- Immune problems. The immune system gets weak with stress and anxiety, and a person becomes more vulnerable to illnesses.
How mindfulness techniques can help you
Everyday mindfulness meditation can help you reduce stress and anxiety. Try the following techniques for controlling stress and anxiety, or you can download meditation apps like Yours App for guided mindfulness sessions.
- Deep breathing. Take some deep breaths with closed eyes. It will relax your nervous system and calm your heart. Deep breathing will reconnect you with the present moment while reducing stress and anxiety.
- Candle study. It is a form of meditation in which you monitor the movement of a candle flame. Please do it for ten minutes and let your thoughts pass without judging them.
- Tea drinking. Make your favourite tea. The process from start to finish is a form of therapy that disconnects you from your worries.
- Slow eating. Concentrate on your food while eating, and don’t rush it. Avoid watching TV or reading newspapers while eating because it will divide your attention. Keep it slow and feel every bite and flavour.
- Stay still. In comparison, yoga and meditation may feel overwhelming. You can always practice stillness. Just stay still for a while. You can focus on an image, point, mantra, or just on your breath. This will make you more aware of your body and surroundings.
Mobile apps for practising mindfulness
In a time when technology is taking every other sector of human life by storm, meditation is brought into your hands with mobile apps. The use of meditation apps helps you look after your mental well-being without physically visiting a therapist. The market is filled with different mobile apps, but one of the best is Yours App. It is packed with tailored-made content to help you find peace amid the chaos. Following are its functions.
- Sleep stories. These stories are aimed to induce sleep. The stories have Li-Fi (low fidelity) sounds, ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) sounds, and nature sounds to cause sleep.
- Meditation rituals. There are mindfulness meditation courses to manage anxiety and lower stress levels.
- Yoga practices. Yours App contains hundreds of hours of guided yoga videos. Expert Yogis provide instructions in these videos with beautiful background sceneries. You will be an expert yogi by using the app daily.
- Body training. There are guided videos of body training to relieve muscle pain and stress.
- Soothing music. There is a library of music in the Yours App. You can make a playlist of your favourite music in the app according to your choice.
The app is a brilliant mix of all the factors essential for meditation. Whatever the age, gender, or preferences are, the app has something for everyone.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder and managing director of Psychreg.
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