All About Stress
WHAT CAUSES IT?
We all know the feeling of stress, the feeling of being overwhelmed, or anxious. The feeling of being frazzled or even nervous. Our heart may race, our breath becomes deeper, our blood pressure rises, and we may even feel like running away from the stressor, which is known as our body’s Fight or Flight response. Our stressor can range from things like work, relationships with a spouse or friend, a new job interview, financial problems, major life changes, or even our own children. Stress can come in many shapes and forms, and it is important for each of us to know how to recognize when we are stressed, and to identify what our stressor is, and how we can decompress and bring our stress level down. Knowing how to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress, can help us to take the correct steps to reducing our stress.
Although, keep in mind that minimal stress isn’t always a bad thing. Some stress can be triggered by a deadline at work, a test that needs to be taken, or an emergency situation. When stress comes in small doses, it may benefit us and help us to work and perform best under our own pressure. Stress can also encourage us to give our all to something, and to help us to rise to meet our challenge. This could help us get that dream job, or finish that project on time for work, or make that excellent grade on the test, or even help us to possibly save a life in an emergency situation.
NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF STRESS
However, chronic stress can be debilitating and can cause harmful effects. Stress is the body’s way of reacting to a threat or a demand. If our body senses danger, or a feeling of dread, pressure or anxiety, it will create the stress response. This response is our body’s way of protecting us. The stress response helps us to stay on task, alert, aware and focused and also helps your body to develop more strength, stamina and speed. While this response may help to keep us on our toes at times, too much stress may become less helpful and cause damage to our moods, our relationships, our nervous system, and ultimately our quality of life. When the stress response occurs, your nervous system releases stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which is the cause of your blood pressure rising, your increase in heart rate, your deeper breathing and your tightening muscles. All of these changes are occurring in order for your body to prepare its Fight or Flight mode. However, our body can not distinguish whether our stress is an actual physical threat, or if it is an emotional stressor such as our finances, an issue with your spouse or a co-worker, or even just an overwhelming time period with our children. When we experience this emotional stress on a regular basis, our body tends to stay in a constant state of stress. This is where the chronic stress can cause problems with our nervous system, our immune system, our digestive system and our emotional stability.
The following is a small list of just a few of the health problems that can occur with chronic stress
- Sleep problems
- Digestive issues
- Pain in the body
- Increased anxiety, worry and depression
- Weight increase and loss
- Heart disease and increased risk of heart attack
- Lack of sex drive
- Alcohol and/or substance abuse
There are numerous emotional disorders that have been linked to stress including depression, anxiety, loneliness, irritability, anger, moodiness, general unhappiness, constant worrying and racing thoughts, which all often result in isolation, and further mental and emotional health problems
The physical effects from chronic stress can include panic attacks, chest pains, rapid heartbeat, a higher likelihood for a heart attack or stroke. Aches and pains in the body can also come from stress, as well as constipation and diarrhea, nausea and even vomiting. People may also experience a loss of appetite, or the desire to eat more than necessary.
Many times, stress will cause immune system disturbances that increase a persons likelihood to catch germs, sickness and infections, ranging from the common cold and herpes to flu and even certain cancers, as well as autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Stress can also have direct effects on our skin, such as rashes, hives, atopic dermatitis and the breakout of herpes.
Stress often contributes to sleep problems including sleeping too much or too little, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and fatigue.
As each of us begin to identify our stressors, we are closer to being able to control and reduce the stress. We may have stress from negative aspects such as financial burdens, relationship problems, a high pressure job or just an exhausting day at work. But we may also feel stress from positive things in our life. Positive events such as having a new baby, buying a new house, getting a new job or even a promotion at your current job, or getting married, may all cause stress. Once we have identified what is stressing us, we can attend to that challenge, and we can attempt to relax ourselves, based on the needs of each stressor. Each of us are going to perceive our stresses differently, and therefore while one person may handle stress very easily, another person may handle the exact same stress in a much different way. Thankfully, there is a multitude of ways for each of us to work on relaxing, decompressing, and trying to keep our stress levels down.
Relaxation comes in many different forms, from physical activities, to mental cleansing, to reaching out to others for support. Each of us has a different attitude and outlook on life, so we must face our ability to deal with our emotions, our stress and our lives, and then we can determine what relaxation will benefit us best.
Relax. You deserve it, it's good for you, and it takes less time than you think. The following stress-relieving tips can help you reduce the stress level in just a matter of minutes, right in your own home.
A few minutes of meditation per day can help ease stress and anxiety. “Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress,” says psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman, PhD, a Chicago health and wellness coach.
Take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing. “Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure,” psychologist Judith Tutin, PhD, and certified life coach in Rome, GA.
Take 5 minutes and focus on one thing. Notice how the air feels on your face when you’re walking and how your feet feel hitting the ground. Enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food. When you spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you should feel less tense.
Your social network is one of your best tools for handling stress. Talk to friends or family. Share what's going on. You can get a fresh perspective while keeping your connection strong.
Place a warm wrap around your neck and shoulders for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and relax your face, neck, upper chest, and back muscles. Remove the wrap and focus on breathing for 3-5 minutes.
Laugh Out Loud
A good belly laugh doesn’t just lighten the load mentally, but it lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and boosts brain chemicals called endorphins, which help your mood.
Turn on some music
Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety.
All forms of exercise, including yoga and walking, can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release feel-good chemicals and by giving your body a chance to practice dealing with stress. You can go for a quick walk around the block, take the stairs up and down a few flights, or do some stretching exercises like head rolls and shoulder shrugs.
Use Essential Oils
There are some incredible benefits of using Essential Oils for those that want help with anxiety, depression and stress. Essential oils can assist with your overall sense of well-being, mind and Spirituality which are great for bringing more balance and harmony to your life, and relaxing.
- Lavender, Wild Orange and Bergamot- Reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
- Ylang Ylang, Blue Tansy, Peace Blend and Patchouli- Have therapeutic qualities that bring about peace and calm your emotions.
- Cedarwood and Cypress- Can balance your human energy field to help bring about emotional healing and relaxing.
- Ylang Ylang, Melaleuca, Deep Blue, Serenity Blend, Balance Blend and Lavender- Can be used in relaxing massage therapy.
- Lavender, Chamomile and Marjoram- Helps with more restful sleep
- Frankincense and Myrrh- Can improve your overall health and wellbeing and can be used for Spiritual enhancement and relaxation.