Dealing with Stress
Dealing with Stress
Stress: It’s more than an annoying feeling we get when work life, home life, and emotional life are feeling out of control. Chronic stress can have immense physical implications, wreaking havoc throughout your body and spiking issues from your blood sugar to blemishes and beyond. Read on to learn how stress is impacting your body and how you can proactively address the situation.
What is stress?
Webster’s Dictionary refers to stress as “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation”.
Who experiences stress?
Everyone. Yes, even your ultra-chill, ~good vibes only~ friend who you can rarely drag off the yoga mat. Stress is innate to the human experience, so willing it to simply go away, as enticing as that sounds, is unfortunately a non-option. There are ways we can rally against the stress monster, but first, we must recognize that stress is natural. Every single person you’ve ever laid eyes on knows what stress feels like. Stress becomes a high-priority concern when it snags the “chronic” role in your life.
How do we experience stress?
Maybe you’ve heard of “fight or flight”; if not, it’s the idea that when we are stressed, our nature is to either square off against our problem (stressful) or vigorously flap our metaphorical wings to take flight and escape the situation (also stressful).
Whether you’re one to fight or one to take flight, our bodies all produce the same stress chemicals.
First up is adrenaline, which you’re likely familiar with. Best known for its starring role in activities like bungee jumping, shark diving, and skydiving, adrenaline is also present when you’re experiencing forms of stress that aren’t quite so fun. Adrenaline makes your heart beat faster and prepares your body to act right away.
Next, there’s cortisol, which increases blood sugar to boost energy to your brain, heart, and muscles. It slows digestions, the immune system, and other body systems you don’t need in a crisis. Feeling, judgement, mood, and memory are all altered by cortisol so you can act fast. Once the stressor retreats, your stress response follows, thus leading to the relaxation response.
When is stress an issue of concern?
The physiological stress response is altered in response to chronic stress, as opposed to occasional stress. When the body’s stress response has been active for a long time, stress hormones don’t go back to normal levels which can result in accelerated aging and increased health issues, including:
- Heart disease
- Digestive problems
- Anxiety or depression
- Memory problems
- Skin problems
How can we combat stress?
Stress management isn’t one size fits all, but there are some elements that have been proven to effectively help lessen stress levels in most people. Those are as follows:
- Getting Enough Sleep
- Eating a Healthy Diet
- Exercising Regularly
If you’ve tried implementing these behaviors and would like to continue working towards improving your stress levels, contact your doctor or a mental health provider to work towards more solutions.