Stress has often been called a killer. It can make you physically ill, can cause pain, not to mention what it does to your mental health!
Stress has always been a problem for me. When I get too stressed out, I shut down. Or at least that’s what I was told when I went to the hospital. They said that when I am faced with an incredible amount of stress, I implode. I shut down and cease to function.
Stress, to me now, is just another day. It eats at me. I get sick to my stomach, have bad headaches, and it can cause panic attacks.
Stress comes in many shapes and sizes. There is no “one size fits all”. How one person may handle a situation can be considered especially stressful to another. It’s just like recovery, there isn’t one way to fix everyone. It happens in its own time.
What is Stress?
Stress can be defined as the brain’s response to any demand. Almost anything can trigger stress, whether this is your daily routine, or that new project your boss threw at you at the last minute…or any kind of change.
Stress has often been called a killer because of the toll it takes on the human body. We’ve seen instances where people have stress-related strokes or heart attacks. Often, people get migraines or have digestive issues when faced with stress.
Everyone has a stress response. It’s what helps us with the fight or flight system, when we are faced with something dangerous. There are chemicals in our brains that are released in short spurts during that time so we can defend ourselves or run away. It makes your pulse quicken, your brain uses more oxygen and the activity increases, you breathe faster and your muscles tense up. This is helpful when facing a dangerous situation, but when you’re not and your body is reacting with all those chemicals, what happens? When you’re dealing with chronic stress, those same chemicals that help you in short bursts to get away, can actually suppress what you need to make it through the day. Your immune system can be suppressed, your digestive system as well as excretory and reproductive systems can stop functioning as normal.
Combating these symptoms can be hard. Not everyone recognizes that their symptoms are stress related. How can you relieve something when you don’t know what causes it?
Try to take a look at your life by taking a step back. When do you feel the most pain? Do you start getting sick when you are heading to work?
Not all Bad
Not all stress is bad. You are faced with stress each and every day, again you may not know it.
When you started your new job, it was stressful right? There were so many new rules and new procedures, it felt like you were in over your head! But, now that you’ve been there a while, and you have a handle on things, it’s not so bad. This is routine stress. Stress that happens each day, that your body has become accustom to.
Handling stress is the hardest part, in my opinion. You have to find an outlet that lets you relax. Some people turn to exercise or yoga. Others choose to read or blog. And others do bad things related to stress relief – Food, anger, fighting. Stress, just like any other feeling, demands to be felt. Bottling it up, isn’t going to help. But having an outburst isn’t good either!
Here’s some ideas:
- Get some sleep!
- Stay in touch with family and friends who can provide emotional support.
- Explore stress coping programs: yoga, meditation, or gentle exercises
- Exercise regularly – even taking a simple 30 minute walk around the block can help.
- Pet your four legged friend: Dogs and cats have been proven to relieve stress and lower blood pressure.
- Take note of what you’re eating. Eating a ton of junk food can affect your mood.
- Set simple priorities or goals. Find a few things that need to be accomplished today and organize them in a way that you can accomplish them with little effort.
- Become more aware of your body. Does doing this make me feel better or worse? Notice how much stress becomes too much.
- Recognize your body’s warning signs: difficulty sleeping, over eating, fatigue, easily angered, panicky, lack of focus.
- Take care of your body – Make sure to drink plenty of water. See a doctor for existing health issues, and notify your doctor immediately if something gets worse.
The key is to take care of yourself. After all, you only have one body.