Stress is a natural part of our lives and occurs on a regular basis. It can come from simple things, such as work deadlines or meeting our own expectations, or it can come from unexpected situations, such as car accidents or surprise meetings. Stress in small, acute doses is good for you and can help your body; but chronic amounts of stress can lead to mental and physical health problems. One of the most important things you can do for stress is find out how to cope with it.
First, let’s look at what stress does to your body. When your body feels stress it activates your “fight or flight” process. You brain tells your body to release adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol, hormones that affect your heart rate and muscles. Your heart rate increases, which in turn increases your blood flow helping your brain respond to the problem and makes your muscles tighten. You may feel like you have butterflies in your stomach and your breathing will increase. Your liver produces extra glucose to give you some extra energy to handle your stressor. Once whatever is causing your stress has passed, your body will return to normal.
Most of those symptoms sounds similar to the effects of exercise and are healthy for your body, in normal amounts. In fact, stress can lead to some benefits as well. Stress will stimulate your immune system, like it does so many of your other systems, and help strengthen your immune system so you are better able to fight off infections. It can help you learn to respond to different problems that you may face through your life. Stress can also help you learn to cope with tough situations. However, stress can also lead to some unpleasant symptoms.
We know that stress is a normal part of our lives but what happens when it becomes chronic? What happens to our bodies when we are unable to cope with stress? If stress is chronic it can lead to hypertension, heart attack, high blood pressure, or stroke due to your constant increased heart rate and blood flow. It causes muscles to stay tight which can lead to headaches and body pain. That can become and even bigger problem if you turn to pain medication to relieve this pain. The extra glucose produced by your liver can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. If your immune system is overstimulated for long period of times it will become weaker and you become more susceptible to illness. Stress affects sleep and a continued lack of sleep can really ware your body down. Stress can affect your diet and digestive track. People cope with stress by either over eating, which leads to obesity and possibly Type 2 Diabetes, or under eating. It changes how food moves through your digestive track and can cause nausea, heart burn, or diarrhea. In women, high levels of stress can lead to issues with menstruation, such as skipped periods, irregular cycles, or more painful periods. In men, chronic stress can lead to ED, testosterone and sperm production issues, and possibly infections in the male reproductive organs. Chronic stress is not something to take lightly.
This is all important to know about stress so that you can recognize what is happening to your body, but what is the best way to cope with stress? Every person, and every stressor is going to have a different solution so there is not a one size fits all answer.
Exercise can most certainly be one of the cures to stress. It is recommended that you exercise for 30 minutes 5 times each week. Exercise is important because it causes your brain to release endorphins, which are your body’s own brand of morphine. They numb pain and help you to feel happy.
Spending time relaxing or destressing each day can help with stress. Practicing yoga or participating in meditation are great ways to teach yourself how to relax if you’re unable to do it on your own.
Socializing with your friends and family and laughing with them is another way to keep stress at bay. Remember to take time to enjoy life with the people you love and who love you. Its always important to have a support system. Those people will be there to help you through your hard times.
Another solution to stress is to take time for yourself. Read a book, draw or paint, listen to your favorite CD. Do something that you enjoy that will give you a break from whatever is causing you stress.
One last, important, thing to help you deal with chronic stress is to talk to a professional. If things are getting to hard for you to cope with on your own and there isn’t anything that seems to help, do not be afraid to seek help from a professional. Your primary care doctor or a psychiatrist can help you find a method to deal with your stress.
Know that you are not alone in your stress. It affects all of us on a regular basis. The important part is remembering how to cope with it. Know your body and pay attention to the signs. Make sure you aren’t falling into a chronic stressed pattern. Be healthy!
For more information on stress, its symptoms, causes, and tips to help cope, check out these sites: