Stress is a part of life, there’s really no avoiding it. There is no such thing as “eliminating” stress entirely from your life, the best that we can do is manage it. You have been faced with many stressful situations in your life, and you can be guaranteed that life will throw many more curveballs at you. The question is, how will you handle it?
We need to manage stress not only for practical purposes but also for our health. Many have dubbed stress as the silent killer because although it doesn’t outwardly seem to affect us physically, stress stealthily wreaks havoc with our health. It changes our metabolism, our diet patterns, the way we digest food, it weakens the immune system and increases our risk for many diseases. In short you can say that stress is very, very stressful indeed.
On the other side of the coin, stress can be seen as character building and as an enhancer to our problem solving abilities. Nobody likes a life that is too boring. Imagine a career without any deadlines, children that never require looking after, or a life that’s spent worrying about absolutely nothing. Pretty soon, you’ll be stressed by the perfection of it all.
There are certain situations that can be categorized as low to moderate stress, the kind that can usually be address by a single solution or a series of small solutions, and the stress usually goes away after just a night’s or a few nights’ sleep. This can be about a minor disagreement with a friend, a missed deadline, a misbehaving child or a missing mobile phone. There are some situations however that can be categorized as acute stress, where a person displays more serious symptoms like anxiety, guilt, depression, and dissociation. This is usually the effect of a traumatic event in a person’s life, such as experiencing death of a loved one, breakups, or an assault. Acute stress is a common reaction, and it is typically observed for 2 days up to a month within the event. The person undergoing acute stress may appear to be in a daze, may be reclusive, may have difficulty sleeping (or the opposite, he may be sleeping unusually long hours), may be hypervigilant, and may be startled exaggeratedly.
If feelings of stress go on for an extended period of time, it can be considered chronic stress. This is when a person is continually subject to stressful situations that the body starts giving out a physical response to it. When the body is stressed, it secretes hormones called corticosteroids and over time this can alter a person’s health. Corticosteroids can cause structural changes in the brain, affecting how we process memory and triggering aggression. Chronic stress can also lead to depression.
Stress can affect the body in many ways. A study indicates that 43 percent of all adults suffer from stress-related health problems, while as much as 75 to 90 percent of all physician visits are stress related concerns. Stress is also cited as a major contributor in the many of the leading causes of death in the world, including diabetes, heart disease, respiratory ailments, liver cirrhosis and severe depression. Stress is also linked to numerous other conditions including severe weight loss or weight gain, upset stomach, gum problems, back ache, skin conditions, insomnia and hypertension.
Stress can be managed by clearing your head, taking charge of the situation, making priorities and striving for balance. The first thing to do is to identify where the stress is coming from, and to look at it objectively. See where the bottleneck is coming from and what your role is in creating stress in your life. It would also help to discuss this with someone you trust so that you can have an outsider’s opinion on the subject. Analyze how you currently deal with the stress. Do you smoke? Do you overeat? Do you avoid the problem altogether instead of facing it? If the problem is not going away, maybe you need to look at a different way of approaching your problems.
In order to alleviate your stress and to avoid it sabotaging your health, take note of these tips:
· Avoid smoking or taking too much caffeine as a response to stress
· Avoid putting yourself in more stressful situations. If you are coming home from a stressful day at work, ask your husband to take care of the home front for the night, or employ the help of a babysitter
· Find a way to talk about the situation. Simply having someone to listen even without them offering a solution can do wonders at lowering your stress levels.
· Take up a hobby. A neutral activity that you enjoy can take your mind off of the situation and allow you to regroup. Yoga, painting or jogging are just some examples.
· Eat healthy. What you put in your body can help fight off the effects of stress. Load up on healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables and avoid caffeine that can trigger further anxiety.