Stress. We all experience it. But, to what degree? And, is our stress good or bad? The answers to these questions determine what effects stress is having on your mind and body.
In discussing stress, it is important to mention that not all stress is bad. A small amount in temporary doses can actually help us to be more alert and perform tasks more efficiently. Furthermore, in stressful or dangerous situations, our body produces an influx of the chemicals cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline which work together to trigger our heart to beat faster and activate our muscles for intensified use. This can all be helpful if faced with saving someone who is drowning or simply meeting at deadline at work.
However, if these chemicals are continually released and stress becomes chronic and on-going, our minds and bodies become drained and this chemical release passes the point of being beneficial. Bad stress often manifests in financial struggles, relationship issues, bereavement, moving, poor family dynamics, job trouble, and general lack of time due to a combination of stressors.
When cortisol is produced, the digestive system and immune system are temporarily compromised in order to fuel the heart and muscles. However, if cortisol production is prolonged through chronic stress, immune system functioning can decline, metabolism slows, blood pressure remains high, and the sleep cycle may be disturbed due to the adrenaline production. These things can cause one to be more susceptible to illness, gain weight, feel lethargic, and develop hypertension. Pain levels in the body can also be affected by stress. As these initial problems continue, more serious conditions may arise such as heart disease, stroke, gastrointestinal issues, mental health problems, and even problems with skin condition. In addition, stress causes people to be irritable, lose hope, become depressed, isolate, become forgetful, and increase the tendency toward substance abuse. (for a more complete list of symptoms, visit WebMD’s article on Stress Symptoms)
If we are able to identify what typical stressors are for ourselves, we are able to better prepare for the coping aspect; therefore resulting in less negative effects of stress. What stressors are you facing? What gives you that frequent dreaded anxiety feeling? If there are one or two situations or aspects to your life that are causing reoccurring stress – focus on finding a solution if at all possible. Sometimes an objective, outside perspective can help if attempted solutions tend to be unsuccessful. For those situations in which solutions are prolonged, finding ways to cope with current and future stress is key.
Just as we all experience stress differently; we all handle or cope with stress differently as well. In thinking of your personal stress busters, consider what relaxes you or what you enjoy. These things are likely to be your best stress relievers. For suggestions of stress relievers and practical life techniques, see the list below:
• Exercise – whatever type strikes your fancy
• Nutrition – healthy and balanced is best
• Social Activities – talk and enjoy time with family and friends
• Relaxation Techniques – meditation, prayer, breathing exercises, or yoga
• Get Organized – clean up the spaces around you to feel less cluttered inside
• Time Management – prioritize your time, making time for yourself a top priority
• Ask for Help – divide responsibilities with those at work or at home to feel less overwhelmed
• Be Assertive – learn how to say no
• Cut Back – rid your life of the extras when possible, this may be financially or with the number of responsibilities you have
• Thrive in Moderation – two cups of coffee can be good or even one glass of wine every now and then is okay, but overconsumption of caffeine, alcohol, and food can only complicate stress.
• Seek Professional Help – know when an objective perspective may benefit you and don’t let your pride get in the way. After all, according to WebMD, almost half of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress. Furthermore, the prevalence of emotional disorders is now more than 50%, which is often due to chronic, untreated stress conditions. Don’t let yourself fall into these categories.
While it may be stressful to think about stress, becoming aware of your stressors and what may be able to relieve your stress is very important to your well-being. Say no to unneeded stress and start living with less stress and enhanced health.
Relieve your stress in Columbia, MO:
Have some fun, within a budget: http://www.groupon.com/local/columbia-mo/things-to-do
Treat yourself with a friend: http://www.visitcolumbiamo.com/web/things_to_do/dining.php
Get active in the sunshine: http://www.visitcolumbiamo.com/web/things_to_do/gardens.php
Stress management resources: http://mizzoulife.missouri.edu/wellness-resource-center/