What Are Some Strategies For Stress Relief
You cant avoid stress, but you can stop it from becoming overwhelming by practicing some daily strategies:
- Exercise when you feel symptoms of stress coming on. Even a short walk can boost your mood.
- At the end of each day, take a moment to think about what youve accomplished not what you didnt get done.
- Set goals for your day, week and month. Narrowing your view will help you feel more in control of the moment and long-term tasks.
- Consider talking to a therapist or your healthcare provider about your worries.
Things You Should Know About Stress
Everyone feels stressed from time to time, but what is stress? How does it affect your overall health? And what can you do to manage your stress?
Stress is how the brain and body respond to any demand. Any type of challengesuch as performance at work or school, a significant life change, or a traumatic eventcan be stressful.
Stress can affect your health. It is important to pay attention to how you deal with minor and major stressors, so you know when to seek help.
Here are five things you should know about stress.
Stress And Your Health
Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous.
Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. But when stress lasts for a long time, it may harm your health.
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Find The Help You Need
If youre diagnosed with stress, dont fretthere is hope for people dealing with both acute and chronic stress. There are many things you can do to avoid stressful situations and manage the stress youre already dealing with.
The first step is figuring out what your triggers are so you can avoid them. Even if you cant avoid your triggers, understanding them so you can proactively deal with stress is important.
If you are having trouble managing stress and its mental and physical effects, you may need help from a health care professional. You dont need to struggle on your own. Call your primary care physician or a local mental health facility, like McLean, to find the care you need.
Stress Effects On The Body
Stress affects all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems.
Stress effects on the body.
Our bodies are well equipped to handle stress in small doses, but when that stress becomes long-term or chronic, it can have serious effects on your body.
When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stressthe bodys way of guarding against injury and pain.
With sudden onset stress, the muscles tense up all at once, and then release their tension when the stress passes. causes the muscles in the body to be in a more or less constant state of guardedness. When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time, this may trigger other reactions of the body and even promote stress-related disorders.
For example, both tension-type headache and migraine headache are associated with chronic muscle tension in the area of the shoulders, neck and head. Musculoskeletal pain in the low back and upper extremities has also been linked to stress, especially job stress.
Relaxation techniques and other stress-relieving activities and therapies have been shown to effectively reduce muscle tension, decrease the incidence of certain stress-related disorders, such as headache, and increase a sense of well-being. For those who develop chronic pain conditions, stress-relieving activities have been shown to improve mood and daily function.
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How Does The Body Control Heat Gain And Heat Loss
The main source of heat in normal conditions is the body’s own internal heat. Called metabolic heat, it is generated within the body by the biochemical processes that keep us alive and by the energy we use in physical activity. The body exchanges heat with its surroundings mainly through radiation, convection, and evaporation of sweat.
Radiation is the process by which the body gains heat from surrounding hot objects, such as hot metal, furnaces or steam pipes, and loses heat to cold objects, such as chilled metallic surfaces, without contact with them. No radiant heat gain or loss occurs when the temperature of surrounding objects is the same as the skin temperature .
Convection is the process by which the body exchanges heat with the surrounding air. The body gains heat from hot air and loses heat to cold air which comes in contact with the skin. Convective heat exchange increases with increasing air speed and increased differences between air and skin temperature.
Evaporation of sweat from the skin cools the body. Evaporation occurs more quickly and the cooling effect is more noticeable with high wind speeds and low relative humidity. In hot and humid workplaces, the cooling of the body due to sweat evaporation is limited because the air cannot accept more moisture. In hot and dry workplaces, the cooling due to sweat evaporation is limited by the amount of sweat produced by the body.
Ways Stress Can Affect The Body
Picture this: Youre powering through the work day when all of a sudden youre asked to join your manager for a quick meeting. Your palms begin to sweat. Your heart races. Your body says, Get ready. ;
Sound familiar? When youre faced with a stressful situation, your hypothalamus, a region of the brain that links the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland, responds by sending out stress hormones. This response is designed to quickly prepare your body to react to an emergency. However, when this stress response fires continuously throughout the day, it can put your overall health and wellbeing at risk.
Since April is Stress Awareness Month, we decided to dig into the 6 ways stress can affect different systems of the body.
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How To Release Stress From Your Body
Being conscious of your stress levels and how it is affecting your body is a great tool toward taking steps to release it from your body.; Until you can recognize it and take control, you cant take steps to rid yourself of it or even to look into steps you can do to prevent it.
It is vital to know that releasing stress does not need to be a drawn-out process.; Here are a few simple methods when you are short on time:
- Sit in your car, on the toilet, or in the dog house.; It doesnt matter where.; Either step away or mentally check out for a minute.; Literally, it can be a minute or longer.; Take deep, controlled breaths.; In through your nose, out through your mouth.; 3 deep breaths can do wonders to calm your heartbeat, relax your body a little, and calm your mind.
- I dont mean stretch for the stapler to throw it at your boss.; Stand up, close your eyes, take a breath, and reach up as high as you can. Do this a few times.; You can also include touching your toes if you are able and so inclined.
- Inhale a comforting scent. Carry some essential oils of what makes you feel calm. I prefer lavender, lemon, or sandalwood.;; It is even possible to buy a necklace that will hold a few drops.; Take a moment to breathe it in.
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All of these outcomes and impacts of short-term stress have been known for decades.;;But, perhaps the more critical concern is the impact of chronic stress on our ability to think clearly and make good decisions.;;Stress hormones have a negative impact on the part of our brain that we need for:
- Evaluating alternatives and making good business decisions
- Having productive and thoughtful conversations with our family members, community members and others whose help we might need as we move forward during challenging times
These physical health, brain function, and decision making impairments often create a vicious cycle. When we find it difficult to make well-thought-through decisions and to move forward, sometimes this can lead to; choices that might have less than desirable outcomes. A poorly contemplated decision can cause even more stress which further fuels this response. This cycle can lead to feelings of hopelessness, anxiety and other concerns, which then in turn may also be connected to depression and the risk of suicide. Fortunately, all these changes that occur under high stress can be managed and reversed, though it takes multiple tactics and strategies to tackle the issue holistically.
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Stress Can Exacerbate Skin Problems Including Acne
It’s no surprise that stress can negatively affect the largest organ in your body; your skin. Researchers have;identified a number of conditions aren’t necessarily caused by stress but can be made worse by it. That list includes acne, psoriasis, rosacea, alopecia, and eczema, too. ;
“It is very common for people to experience breakouts when stressed,” dermatologist Marisa Garshick previously told Insider. “Your body releases stress hormones including cortisol, which may increase the skin’s oil production, making you prone to breakouts.”
Increasec cortisol can also break down collagen and decrease synthesis of hyaluronic acid, Garshick said, adding that this loss of collagen and hyaluronic acid “can lead to fine lines and wrinkles over time,” and even premature aging.
When you’re stressed, research finds it can take your skin longer than usual to heal up wounds.
How Does The Human Body React To Hot Environments
The healthy human body maintains its internal temperature around 37Â°C. Variations, usually of less than 1Â°C, occur with the time of the day, level of physical activity or emotional state. A change of body temperature of more than 1Â°C occurs only during illness or when environmental conditions are more than the body’s ability to cope with extreme heat.
As the environment warms-up, the body tends to warm-up as well. The body’s internal “thermostat” maintains a constant inner body temperature by pumping more blood to the skin and by increasing sweat production. In this way, the body increases the rate of heat loss to balance the heat burden. In a very hot environment, the rate of “heat gain” is more than the rate of “heat loss” and the body temperature begins to rise. A rise in the body temperature results in heat illnesses.
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When You Are Away From The Circumstance And Have More Time Here Are Some Additional Ways To Release Trapped Stress:
- It doesnt need to be intense or extended.; 15 minutes of stretching, yoga, kickboxing, treadmill, running in place, or jumping rope will do.; Whatever gets you moving and allows your body to use up some of those extra hormones is beneficial.
- I mentioned 3 deep breaths above.; Try increasing the 3 deep breathes to 10 minutes of quietly sitting and breathing.; Put in earplugs if you must to drown out the noise around you.
- We hold our stress in our muscles and joints.; Getting a massage can aid in releasing that pent up stress.
- Laugh or Smile. I know, if you had something funny happening in your life right now, you wouldnt be so stressed, right?; Turn on a comedian you like, call a funny friend, read memes on Facebook, or read a comic strip.; The act of laughing, or even just smiling, has an almost instantaneous stress release on our mind and body.
- Reach out to someone. Call a friend, a family member, your dog, or a professional.; Sometimes just letting the emotions out of your head can help you see things differently.;; Cry, yell, scream, or talk.; Just let it out.
Increased Sensitivity To Pain
Its well known that stress can cause physical tension, which can lead to painful headaches and neck and back pain. But stress can also affect how people experience pain, often causing an exaggerated response to an otherwise minor stimulus.
One study;in children with recurring abdominal pain showed that stress reduced their tolerance for that pain, and in people with chronic pain, pain levels;spike;during periods of stress.;Scientists;think this heightened pain response might occur because stress can make the hormones that help people cope with painless effective.
Chen gives the example of a transgender patient who experienced debilitating back pain from a work injury, which resolved only after she shared her gender identity with her family.
This patient had the most profound back pain Id ever seen, and it lasted for years, with such an exaggerated pain response, Chen says. She had been hiding her transgender identity and had not been able to process that, and it was only after going through the transition that her pain completely resolved.
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Stress Could Trigger Depression
When it comes to depression and stress, “it’s sometimes tough to tease out which is the chicken and which is the egg,” said Geyer. “But there’s clearly a strong link.”
Some research says that stress can suppress the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus. That’s a part of the brain that’s shown to be smaller in some depressed people. Geyer also noted that in some people, chronic inflammation appears to play a role in the onset of depression. And chronic inflammation, can be caused by chronic stress.
“Stress, or being stressed out, leads to behaviors and patterns that in turn can lead to a chronic stress burden and increase the risk of major depression,” Bruce McEwen author of The End of Stress as We Know It,;told WebMD.
The bottom line is that depression can be caused by a combination of factors. Still, the National Institute of Mental Health does list stress as a risk factor for the disease.;
How Do I Ensure That Stress Is The Real Problem
Compared to the flu or an infection, stress is harder to pin down. There are a couple of different methods used to diagnose stress.
Questionnaires are commonly used to diagnose stress because they take your feelings into account. By answering questions about how youre feeling and whats going on in your life, you can help a medical expert decide whether or not youre experiencing psychological stress.
Biochemical measures are a more concrete way to diagnose stress. Biochemical measurement involves measuring levels of certain compounds in your blood to determine stress levels. This is a reliable method for diagnosing stress because it measures levels in your body instead of relying on your answers to questions.
Physiological measurementslike your pulseare another good way to spot changes in the body that are a result of stress. When youre stressed, your heart rate and blood pressure usually increase, which means measuring numbers like that is a good way to tell if youre stressed.
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What Is The Meaning Of Fight
The Fight-Flight-Freeze response is a combination of release of hormones and the sending of nerve signals that occur as a response to an encounter with the stressor. The physical symptoms of stress on the body include muscle tension, rapid heart rate and breathing and rise in blood pressure. Experiencing butterflies in the stomach, tingling sensations on the limbs and hair standing on the ends are some of the experiences people are faced with during sudden danger.
Fight – An angry reaction and agitated state of mind. The response is to fight the stimulus and overpower it. The body cannot sit still and is keyed up to act. A restless emotional reaction is seen, which could be fear, anxiety or anger, and a fight response includes fighting and overpowering the stressor.
Flight – This is a passive reaction, withdrawing away from the situation and a feeling of depression. The person shuts down his will to act and shows very little energy or emotion. A flight response usually consists of fleeing from the situation or withdrawing from the place or event.
Freeze – The pressure of the situation makes the person freeze and paralyzed. Extreme agitation is going on in the mind, but the body remains frozen and does not react.
Ways Your Body Reacts To Stress: How You Can Cope
I have not met many people who do not have some amount of stress at their place of employment. Stress is natural and in some cases beneficial. However, most stress causes the body harm when it is not treated properly. In fact, people with high-stress jobs visit the doctor 30% more than those with lower stress jobs, due to the toll stress takes on the body.
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Our Bodys Reaction To Stress
Lets look at each body system and how it experiences stress so we can monitor your stress levels and take appropriate action to keep them under control. When writing this article, the Skeleton Song came to mind as it reinforces how our bones connect to one another to work as one structural system. The same is true for our bodys other systems. Reaction to stress starts in the brain as the amygdala processes our emotions and then sends a signal to the hypothalamus, the command center of the brain. The hypothalamus sends messages to our nervous system which communicates with our bodys other systems so it is ready to address stress.
Our autonomic nervous system controls the sympathetic or parasympathetic systems. The sympathetic nervous system determines whether were going to either have a fight or flight response by giving us energy. It signals the adrenal glands to release hormones . These hormones cause our heart to beat faster, breathing increases, blood vessels dilate and our digestive system releases glucose into our blood stream so we can react quicker. This process happens quickly and once the crisis is over our body returns to normal or a state of non-stress. Too much stress can wear down the body and can cause medical issues in different parts of our body. Next, we will look at the different systems in our body and how they are affected when we are stressed.