As long as we’re alive, we’re going to have stress. There’s no escaping it. There’s good stress and bad stress. But with regards to bad stress, unless we find ways to deal with it effectively, our well-being will suffer because stress harms our mental and emotional health, which takes a toll on physical health.  

So, if you’ve been feeling stressed lately, let’s talk about sleep, a powerful antidote for stress. (The odds are that if you feel overly stressed, you’re probably missing out on getting the sleep you need.)

The mind and body are active while we sleep. While we sleep, the body cycles through essential restorative functions. The brain gets rid of toxins and sorts through what happened that day. The body starts the process of repairing and restoring itself.

 How stress affects the mind and body

The fight or flight hormone cortisol is released into the body when we’re under stress. Cortisol can raise blood pressure and make us feel anxious. Cortisol is a lifesaver when we need it. But as you can imagine, when “fight or flight” becomes a lifestyle, bad things happen. Chronic stress increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, to name just a couple. But, guess what sleep does? It reduces cortisol levels and balances the chemistry in the brain and body.  

How stress affects our mood 

Stress affects how we feel emotionally and see things. Have you ever noticed how it’s easier to over or under-react when we’re under a lot of stress? Instead of helping matters, it usually makes things worse, creating even more problems. Some of the things people living with a heightened sense of worry or anxiety will do, are overeat or undereat, have emotional outbursts, or withdraw and isolate themselves. Sleep does a beautiful job at regulating mood swings.

 How stress affects our relationships

Stress affects the quality of our social connections with others. When we’re consumed with worry, feeling anxious, or overwhelmed, our mind is preoccupied with what’s weighing us down, making it very difficult to be fully present and interact positively with others. Stress can take a harmful toll on our relationships if we’re not careful. On the one hand, interacting with others can help ease the effects of stress, but on the other hand, sometimes we need to get away for a little while and deal with matters. Sleep gives us the time to recharge physically, mentally, and emotionally so we can face the world again. Even taking a few minutes to relax in bed before falling asleep can begin restoring energy levels and replenish our spirit, making it easier to connect with others.  

 Sleep is a powerful antidote to stress

Give yourself the gift of replenishing sleep if you’ve had a particularly stressful day or week; your body and spirit need rest. Start winding down early and relax in the comfort of your bed; replenish your spirit by nurturing your soul. Release your worries. Journal, meditate, pray – do something to rest your heart and mind for a healthier outlook on life. Sleep isn’t a luxury. It’s something you can’t live without. So let sleep be the escape you need from the daily onslaught of life and its overwhelming pressures. Recover from the harmful effects of stress by making sleep a priority. Not only will your mind and body recover from stress faster and deal with difficult situations easier, but you will feel happier and enjoy life so much more!

Photo by Kate Stone Matheson on Unsplash

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