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Stress

Stress is a feeling you get when faced with a challenge. Everyone is under some form of stress. In small doses, stress can be good for you because it makes you more alert and gives you a burst of energy, but too much stress in too short a time can be harmful.

Stress happens when people feel like they don’t have the tools to manage all of the demands in their lives. Stress can be short term or long term. Missing the bus or arguing with a spouse or partner can cause short-term stress. Money problems or trouble at work can cause long-term stress. Even happy events, like having a baby or getting married, can cause stress.

Stress is wear and tear on our bodies involving any disruptive influence on a person, either physical or psychological. A physical influence may be an injury, virus, extreme temperature change or exhaustion. A psychological influence is a threat to security, self-esteem, and way of life or safety.

Stress is a factor in a number of medical disorders including hypertension, migraine headache, ulcers, colitis, lower back tension, muscle spasms, rheumatism and arthritis.

Causes of stress:

Stress can be caused by numerous uncontrollable events that occur in our everyday lives including:

  • Personal Loss: Death of a loved one, separation or divorce
  • Job Changes: Trouble at work, getting fired or taking a new job
  • Money Issues: Budget troubles, large debts, loss of income
  • Illness/Injury: Major illness or injury
  • Family Changes: Changes at home caused by pregnancy, family responsibilities, etc.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Sudden financial gain or a big promotion
  • Retirement: The combination of enforced leisure and reduced income

Symptoms:

  • Not eating or eating too much
  • Feeling like you have no control
  • Needing to have too much control
  • Forgetfulness
  • Headaches, diarrhea, cramps, gas, constipation
  • Lack of energy, lack of focus
  • Tense muscles, sore neck, shoulders and back
  • General aches and pains, upset stomach, back pain
  • Phobias
  • Fatigue/sleeplessness, insomnia
  • Boredom, depression

Can Stress Affect My Health?

The body responds to stress by releasing stress hormones. These hormones make blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels go up. Long-term stress can help cause a variety of health problems including:

  • Mental health disorders like depression and anxiety
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart beats
  • Menstrual problems
  • Acne and other skin problems

How Can I Handle Stress?

Everyone has to deal with stress. There are steps you can take to help you handle stress in a positive way and keep it from making you sick. Try these tips to keep stress in check:

Develop a new attitude:

  • Become a problem solver
  • Be flexible
  • Get organized
  • Set limits

Relax:

  • Take deep breaths
  • Stretch
  • Massage tense muscles
  • Take time to do something enjoyable

Take care of your body:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat right
  • Get moving
  • Don’t deal with stress in unhealthy ways

Connect with others:

  • Share your stress
  • If needed, get help from a professional
  • Help others
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