We all can get stressed out, but what exactly is stress? It is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body's reaction to a challenge or demand. It can and will rob you off your happiness.
We all feel stressed from time to time – it’s all part of the emotional ups and downs of life and can come from many sources. When we feel under pressure the nervous system instructs our bodies to release stress hormones including adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. These produce physiological changes to help us cope with the threat or danger we see to be upon us. This is called the “stress response” or the “fight-or-flight” response.
It can also cause quick and shallow breathing, where minimal air is taken in, which can lead to hyperventilation. This is more likely if someone is prone to anxiety and panic attacks.
Stress wreaks havoc on our immune systems. Cortisol released in our bodies suppresses the immune system and inflammatory pathways, and we become more susceptible to infections and chronic inflammatory conditions. Our ability to fight off illness is reduced.
The musculoskeletal system is also affected. Our muscles tense up, which is the body’s natural way of protecting ourselves from injury and pain. Repeated muscle tension can cause bodily aches and pains, and when it occurs in the shoulders, neck and head it may result in tension headaches and migraines.
There are cardiovascular effects. When stress is acute (in the moment), heart rate and blood pressure increase, but they return to normal once the acute stress has passed. If acute stress is repeatedly experienced, or if stress becomes chronic (over a long period of time) it can cause damage to blood vessels and arteries.
The hypothalamus is located in the brain and it plays a key role in connecting the endocrine system with the nervous system. Stress signals coming from the hypothalamus trigger the release of stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine, and then blood sugar (glucose) is produced by the liver to provide you with energy to deal with the stressful situation. Most people reabsorb the extra blood sugar when the stress subsides, but for some people there is an increased risk of diabetes.
Stress and your mind
Stress has marked effects on our emotional well-being. It is normal to experience high and low moods in our daily lives, but when we are stressed we may feel more tired, have mood swings or feel more irritable than usual. Stress causes hyperarousal, which means we may have difficulty falling or staying asleep and experience restless nights. This impairs concentration, attention, learning and memory, all of which are particularly important around exam time. Researchers have linked poor sleep to chronic health problems, depression and even obesity .
So learn to manage your stress, before it manages you. It’s all about keeping it in check. Some stress in life is normal – and a little stress can help us to feel alert, motivated, focused, energetic and even excited. Take positive actions to channel this energy effectively and you may find yourself performing better, achieving more and feeling good.
There are many healthy ways to manage stress. Try a few and see which ones work best for you.
· Recognize the things you can't change. Accepting that you can't change certain things allows you to let go and not get upset. For instance, you cannot change the fact that you have to drive during rush hour. But you can look for ways to relax during your commute, such as listening to a podcast or book.
· Avoid stressful situations. When you can, remove yourself from the source of stress. For example, if your family squabbles during the holidays, give yourself a breather and go out for a walk or drive.
· Get exercise. Getting physical activity every day is one of the easiest and best ways to cope with stress. When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals that make you feel good. It can also help you release built-up energy or frustration. Find something you enjoy, whether it is walking, cycling, softball, swimming, or dancing, and do it for at least 30 minutes on most days.
· Change your outlook. Try to develop a more positive attitude toward challenges. You can do this by replacing negative thoughts with more positive ones. For example, rather than thinking, "Why does everything always go wrong?" change this thought to, "I can find a way to get through this." It may seem hard or silly at first, but with practice, you may find it helps turn your outlook around.
· Do something you enjoy. When stress has you down, do something you enjoy to help pick you up. It could be as simple as reading a good book, listening to music, watching a favorite movie, or having dinner with a friend. Or, take up a new hobby or class. Whatever you choose, try to do at least one thing a day that's just for you.
· Learn new ways to relax. Practicing relaxation techniques is a great way to handle daily stress. Relaxation techniques help slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. There are many types, from deep breathing and meditation to yoga and tai chi. Take a class, or try learning from books, videos, or online sources.
· Connect with loved ones. Do not let stress get in the way of being social. Spending time with family and friends can help you feel better and forget about your stress. Confiding in a friend may also help you work out your problems.
· Get enough sleep. Getting a good night's sleep can help you think more clearly and have more energy. This will make it easier to handle any problems that crop up. Aim for about 7 to 9 hours each night.
· Maintain a healthy diet. Eating healthy foods helps fuel your body and mind. Skip the high-sugar snack foods and load up on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy, and lean proteins.
· Learn to say no. If your stress comes from taking on too much at home or work, learn to set limits. Ask others for help when you need it.
· Get a massage - touch from a loved one or a professional provider will release oxytocin and seratonin into the blood stream. Both are responsible for happiness and can help you to relax.
Don't let stress cause undue damage to your body and health. Learn how to manage it for a happier and healthier lifestyle. If you enjoy my blogs send me a message and let me know. If there are any topics you want me to wrote about send to my email at email@example.com