Stress And How To Lower It
Posted under Health Guides. Updated 24 June 2019.
- Some stress is okay if it motivates you to get things done.
- Too much stress can lead to health problems such as depression, and sleep problems.
- Try stress-lowering activities such as yoga or writing in a journal.
You know when youre stressed out your body feels tired and your thoughts are spinning. It can also help to know why your body reacts that way, and what you can do about it. Our bodies are designed to handle calm situations, and also exciting or dangerous ones. When youre in the middle of something scary or challenging, your body gets into a mode thats better for handling the situation. This is a state of high energy and sharp senses, such as the way you feel when youre playing a fun sport or doing really well on a test. However, when the situation turns into more than you can handle, thats when you start to feel the effects of stress. Its as if your body is shouting Do something!, and your brain is shouting back I dont know what to do!
Cognitive Symptoms Of Stress
One of the key cognitive symptoms of stress is the over-focus on the stressor, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else. Or alternatively:
- Absentmindedness/forgetfulness/distraction – often because the brain is trying to focus on too many cognitive tasks at the same time, while the stressor is claiming most of the attention.
- Larger use of negative words and phrases.
- Worry and an inability to focus – if the stress is related to a pile up of different things.
- Poor judgment.
Job Loss And Unemployment Stress
Losing a job is one of lifes most stressful experiences. Its normal to feel angry, hurt, or depressed, grieve for all that youve lost, or feel anxious about what the future holds. Job loss and unemployment involves a lot of change all at once, which can rock your sense of purpose and self-esteem. While the stress can seem overwhelming, there are many steps you can take to come out of this difficult period stronger, more resilient, and with a renewed sense of purpose.
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How To Manage Stressors
There are several techniques to successfully manage stress. The next time youre feeling stuck and overwhelmed, try these suggestions from Little Rock, Arkansas-based psychiatrist Rhonda Mattox, M.D.:
- Calm your body. Pay attention to thoughts and breathing patterns. Many times when we are stressed, our breathing patterns shift to rapid and shallow, says Dr. Mattox. Prioritize slowing your breathing down and breathing from your diaphragm. Diaphragmatic breathing has been proven in studies to lower your cortisol and reduce physical signs of stress. This is done by laying on your back or sitting up with one hand just below your ribcage and one on your chest. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale through parted lips, and your diaphragm should rise while your chest remains still the entire time.
- Practice your boundary setting to avoid yes stress. Many times we have overcommitted, and that is the main culprit of our stress, Dr. Mattox says. People pleasing is at the root of not feeling comfortable saying no, or yes stress, she adds. Address this tendency honestly to better maintain your personal boundaries. Seeking therapy may help, since guilt and manipulation may affect your inability to say no.
- Break big tasks down into smaller to-dos, and dont be afraid to delegate. Dr. Mattox says the use of planners and journals can be particularly helpful in proactively addressing and managing stressors.
What Are The Long
When were stressed over a long period of time, its inevitable that there will be consequences for our physical health.
In the long-run, stress can lead to a variety of health conditions including depression, anxiety, heart disease and high blood pressure.
If youre concerned that stress may be affecting your health or wellbeing, its worth speaking to your doctor or seek support from a qualified medical professional.
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Youre Simply Not Enjoying The Things You Used To
One of the many emotional symptoms of stress is a general feeling of malaise. If youre dreading doing things you once lovedlike working out, spending time with friends, or simply talking a walknot only you could you be stressed, but you could also be suffering from depression.
Depression is precipitated by long-term, chronic exposure to stress, researchers published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health wrote in a 2012 study. As the researchers noted, while experiencing high-stress situations, the body may again release stress hormones and that could inhibit a persons ability to experience joy in daily activities.
If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, its time to talk to a health professional. That way, you have someone on your side to help you find ways to de-stress and get back to living your life your way.
Hair Loss Has Become A Real Problem
If youre finding more strands of hair in the drain or in your brush it could be a telltale sign of stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are three types of hair loss associated with stress: telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, and trichotillomania.
The first, telogen effluvium, can occur after significant stress pushes large numbers of hair follicles into what is known as resting phase. That means the hair is pushed out before completing its growth cycle. When this happens, affected hairs might fall out suddenly when you’re combing or washing your hair.
Meanwhile, alopecia areata can be caused by a variety of things, the Mayo Clinic explained, including severe stress. When alopecia areata occurs, the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles, which causes hair loss.
And the last is Trichotillomania, which occurs when a person has an irresistible urge to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body, the Mayo Clinic said.
Importantly, the Mayo Clinic noted, hair loss doesnt need to be permanent. Again, using stress mitigation techniques like meditation can help restore your head of hair in no time.
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Signs Your Teen Is Stressed Out
Aron Janssen, MD is board certified in child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry and is the vice chair of child and adolescent psychiatry Northwestern University.
Although teens dont have to worry about bills, a career, or holding down a household, they experience different sources of stress. They deal with issues like bullying, peer pressure, and academic issues which can be very stressful.
Without appropriate support, stressed-out teens may be at a higher risk for mental health problems, academic problems, and health issues. So it’s important to be on the lookout for warning signs your teen is feeling stressed out. Then, you can intervene sooner, rather than later.
Here are some of the top signs that your teen is stressed out.
Your Hair Is Starting To Fall Out
If youre waking up with more than a few strands on your pillow, you may be suffering from alopecia areata. This is an autoimmune skin disease brought on when the bodys immune system attacks the hair follicles. It causes small round patches of hair loss on the scalp. Its not dangerous, but its likely to be associated with a severe stressor, like an assault or significant traumatic event in ones life, says Dr. Colgan. This disease is more likely to occur in young women or adolescent girls.
What to do: In most cases, this is typically a temporary condition and your hair will grow back once stress is minimized. But dont be afraid to talk to your doctor about whats going on, says Dr. Colgan. While your MD might recommend injectable scalp steroids to help with hair growth, its best to have an examination. The hair loss could possibly be a sign of a scalp fungal infection, a bacterial function or even a thyroid disorder.
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What Causes Stress In Our Lives
We live in an interesting, but also fast-paced world. There are lots of sources of stress, including:
- Homework and projects at school
- Family tension as you try to be more independent from your parents
- Pressure from friends to do risky things
- Tension with your boyfriend or girlfriend
- Difficult people in your life
- Upsetting news about disasters, war, or personal tragedy
- Media messages that lower your self-esteem
- Not getting enough sleep
- Chronic illness
What Causes High Stress Levels
Anything that puts high demands or pressure on you can result in high stress levels, especially if you struggle to manage feelings of stress. Some common stressors that can lead to high levels of stress include high-pressure jobs, financial difficulties, taking on too much, conflicts at work or home, and failure to take time to relax.
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You Experience Tightness And Tension In Your Muscles
Anyone else have a really tight and stiff back? When we are stressed, we tend to become really rigid and uptight rather than flexible and fluid.
What to do about it: Give your body some TLC! I love a deep tissue massage or acupuncture. If those arent possible options for you, try some stretching, yoga, or exercises to loosen things up.
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Whether or not youre stressed, its smart to see your primary care physician once a year for a complete exam, including a check of blood pressure, heart rate, weight, cholesterol, and thyroid hormones. And dont let a doctor brush off your stress.
When women have heart palpitations, doctors are more likely to think that theyre either experiencing stress or anxiety, or that theyre hysterical in some way. As a result, women tend to be underdiagnosed with heart disease, says Dr. Haythe. And this happens despite the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. A good rule of thumb: If unusual symptoms persist for more than a week or two, see your physician.
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How To Recognize The Signs Of Stress
Stress levels are at an all-time high in American culture. Many factors contribute to stress, from finances and work to family and relationships. No one wants to live with stress, but without recognizing it and taking measures to prevent or manage it, overcoming it will not be completely possible. Everyone handles stress differently, and not all people will have the same symptoms. Heres how to identify the signs of stress.
What Are The Effects Of Stress
A certain amount of stress is okay if it helps to motivate you to deal with a short term problem. For example if youre stressed about writing a paper for school, and your stress causes you to ask your teacher for advice, and you finish the paper, then your stress has done its job.
In the short term, stress can:
- Help you focus on a situation or solve a problem
- Tire you out
- Make you nervous or irritable
On the other hand, if youre experiencing a lot of stress day after day, your body may start sending you warning signs that somethings really wrong. This kind of chronic stress can take a physical and mental toll on your body and mind.
Long term stress can put you at risk for health problems such as:
- Substance abuse
- Obesity and other eating problems
- Digestive problems
- Lower immunity to colds and other illnesses
These chronic problems are really your bodys way of telling you Hey! Im under way too much stress somethings got to change!
If you notice that you feel stressed just about every day, you should take some steps to lessen the number of stressors in your life, and try some techniques that will help you de-stress.
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Theres So Much To Do But You Have A Difficult Time Deciding How To Start
It can be hard to know where to start when youre to-do list seems like its a mile long. In fact, it can be so overwhelming that you end up doing nothing- because making a decision on what to do first is too overwhelming. This is called analysis paralysis.
What to do about it: One thing thats really helped me is overcoming the need to be perfect. If youre a perfectionist, it can be really hard to make decisions and take action because youre so afraid of getting it wrong or making mistakes. Here are 5 Ways to Overcome Perfectionism and Embrace your Imperfect Life.
You Have Trouble Sleeping
Maybe you have trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep. Or maybe the quality of your sleep doesnt leave you feeling refreshed and energized. When your stressed, your body isnt able to get into that deep, relaxed state you need to feel completely rested.
What to do about it: Aside from trying a guided meditation, practice deep breathing exercises before you fall asleep or journaling. When youve got a lot of stress, you might not have a constructive way to release it all. Writing it all down can help release it and give you some clarity around your issues.
Signs You Might Be Too Stressed
Everyone gets stressed from time to time, but when is it time to speak to a doctor about it?
While experts say that a little stress is OK it can actually be beneficial in some situations chronic stress can be bad for both your mental and physical health.
As today marks the start of International Stress Awareness Week, we asked experts to share the signs that you might want to get the issue checked out with your GP.
1. Youre always in a bad mood
Constantly find yourself snapping at your other half? When youre stressed, your body releases stress hormones including cortisol, says Pablo Vandenabeele, clinical director for mental health at Bupa.
These hormones can affect your mood and energy levels. As a result, you may feel more irritable or worried than usual, or you might find that you struggle to concentrate or make decisions.
2. Youre not sleeping properly
Stress can disrupt normal sleeping patterns in different ways, says Vandenabeele.
Some find theyre constantly tired and want to sleep as much as possible, while others struggle to fall asleep and wake up during the night thinking about the things that are causing them stress.
If you notice your sleep has changed, it might be a sign to book a doctors appointment.
3. Changes to your sex drive
As Earim Chaudry, medical director at mens wellness platform, Manual explains: Stress can have some serious adverse effects on both your happiness and your libido.
Recognising Your Stress Triggers
If you’re not sure what’s causing your stress, keep a diary and make a note of stressful episodes for two-to-four weeks. Then review it to spot the triggers.
Things you might want to write down include:
- the date, time and place of a stressful episode
- what you were doing
- a stress rating
You can use the diary to:
- work out what triggers your stress
- work out how you operate under pressure
- develop better coping mechanisms
Doctors sometimes recommend keeping a stress diary to help them diagnose stress.
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You Arent Sleeping Well
Any fluctuation in sleep patterns, whether sleeping too much from exhaustion or insomnia, needs to be addressed. Meditation, exercise and a healthy, balanced diet help with sleep issues. But ultimately, you need to find a root to the problem. Are you worrying too much at night? When you are sleeping, are you having nightmares? Our daily events get played out in the subconscious. Sleep, or lack of it, gets affected. Stress impedes a peaceful state of mind. Sleeping patterns do change with age and environmental factors however, when you are overstressed, sleep is one of the first things that gets affected.
Understanding Stress Is The Key To Keeping It Under Control
Youre up against a deadline at work. Your kids are fighting as youre trying to finish an assignment. You are stuck in traffic and have dinner in the back seat. On top of all that, your email pingsyoure late to pay your credit card bill. Your heart rate spikes, you start sweating, and your mind begins to race.
If you felt yourself respond to the thought of being in those situations, youre experiencing a reaction to stress. While we all experience stress each day, an unhealthy amount of stress can be dangerous to both our physical and mental health.
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Take Care Of Your Body
A healthy body can help you manage stress. Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep, eat healthy food, stay hydrated and exercise regularly. Go easy on the caffeine. Shorting yourself on sleep, and especially pulling an all-nighter, robs you of energy and your ability to concentrate. A healthy diet improves your ability to learn. Don’t skip breakfast.
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Struggling with stress? We caught up with Dr Rangan Chatterjee on the In The Moment Magazine podcast to find out how to cope with stress and live calmer lives.
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Does Acute Stress Disorder Go Away
Acute stress disorder is a short-term condition and symptoms usually go away over time. Consult with your doctor about the most effective form of treatment for ASD. Treatment may include a psychiatric evaluation, therapy, and medications. Many people with ASD are later diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder .