The word itself makes my muscles tense up and my head pound so I decided to do a little research. Some of the things I hope to cover are:
- What is stress?
- How does it happen (symptoms and signs)?
- How to manage stress?
1.) In general, stress is related to both external and internal factors. External factors include the physical environment, including your job, your relationships with others, your home, and all the situations, challenges, difficulties, and expectations you’re confronted with on a daily basis. Internal factors determine your body’s ability to respond to, and deal with, the external stress-inducing factors. Internal factors which influence your ability to handle stress include your nutritional status, overall health and fitness levels, emotional well-being, and the amount of sleep and rest you get.
2.) Excess stress can manifest itself in a variety of emotional, behavioral, and even physical symptoms, and the symptoms of stress vary enormously among different individuals. Common physical symptoms often reported by those experiencing excess stress include sleep disturbances, muscle tension, headache, gastrointestinal disturbances, and fatigue.
Emotional and behavioral symptoms that can accompany excess stress include nervousness, anxiety, changes in eating habits including overeating, loss of enthusiasm or energy, and mood changes. Of course, none of these signs or symptoms means for certain that there is an elevated stress level since all of these symptoms can be caused by other medical and/or psychological conditions.
It is also known that people under stress have a greater tendency to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as excessive use or abuse of alcohol and drugs, cigarette smoking, and making poor nutritional choices, than their less-stressed counterparts. These unhealthy behaviors can further increase the severity of symptoms related to stress, often leading to a “vicious cycle” of symptoms and unhealthy behaviors.
The experience of stress is highly individualized. What constitutes overwhelming stress for one person may not be perceived as stress by another. Likewise, the symptoms and signs of poorly managed stress will be different for each person.
3.) If we think about the causes of stress, the nature of the stress response, and the negative effects of some types of stress (prolonged, unexpected, or unmanageable stress), several healthy management strategies become clear. A first step in stress management is exercise. Since the stress response prepares us to fight or flee, our bodies are primed for action. Unfortunately, however, we usually handle our stresses while sitting at our desk, standing at the watercooler, or behind the wheel stuck in traffic.
- Exercise on a regular basis helps to turn down the production of stress hormones and associated neurochemicals. Thus, exercise can help avoid the damage to our health that prolonged stress can cause. In fact, studies have found that exercise is a potent antidepressant and sleeping aid for many people.
- One or two 20-30 minute meditation sessions a day can have lasting beneficial effects on health. Indeed, advanced meditators can even significantly control their blood pressure and heart rate as well.
- Elimination of drug use and no more than moderate alcohol use are important for the successful management of stress. We know that people, when stressed, seek these outlets, but we also know that many of these substances make us even more responsive to stress. As a result, small problems produce big surges of stress chemicals. What’s more, these attempts with drugs and alcohol to mask stress often prevent the person from facing the problem directly. Consequently, they are not able to develop effective ways to cope with or eliminate the stress.
- Chronic or uninterrupted stress is very harmful. It is important, therefore, to take breaks and decompress. Take a lunch break and don’t talk about work. Take a walk instead of a coffee break. Use weekends to relax, and don’t schedule so many events that Monday morning will seem like a relief. Learn your stress signals. Take regular vacations or even long weekends or mental-health days at intervals that you have learned are right for you.
- For those who may need help dealing with stress, stress-management counseling in the form of individual or group therapy is offered by various mental-health-care providers. Stress counseling and group discussion therapy have proven to reduce stress symptoms and improve overall health and attitude.
This information was found at : http://www.medicinenet.com/stress/article.htm