The Importance Of Treating Stress Early
Spotting the early signs of stress and doing something about it is important to stop these developing and to prevent unhealthy coping habits taking hold. If you think you are showing symptoms of stress, there are some simple things you can do like finding ways to relax, take more exercise and reduce your commitments.
When Should I See My Doctor
If you or someone close to you is experiencing an emergency, or is at risk of immediate harm, call triple zero . To talk to someone now, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
If you have tried relaxation techniques and reaching out to someone you trust, but still feel overwhelmed, you can check in with your doctor or speak with a mental health professional.
Stress is not itself a diagnosis but rather a clue that something else is going on. Chronic stress could be a sign of depression, anxiety or a symptom of another mental health condition. GPs and psychologists are trained to know how to recognise when stress is a sign that you need extra support, so dont hesitate to reach out for advice.
How Is Your Stress Level
Have you ever experienced that “vibrating” feeling while stuck in traffic? Or, perhaps panic at work when your boss asks you to do “one more thing” or moves up the deadline on a complicated project? Perhaps youve experienced anxiety when your children or spouse seem to be making unending demands on your time and energy?
If any of these sound familiar, do not despair you are not alone! If you want to see the widespread impact of stress, visit your local shopping center and observe the faces of the fast-paced shoppers. Without a doubt, we all experience stress.Dr. Richard Earle from the Canadian Institute of Stress defines stress as mobilized energy. We all need stress to get things done. Think of all that you do in a day if you didnt have stress, you wouldnt be able to do them.
But there is good news we dont have to feel stressed out! In this way, our focus will be on managing our stress rather than trying to eliminate it.
When you learn the factors which contribute to your stress level and a few methods of managing that stress, you increase the sense of control you have over circumstances in your life. You can also identify the factors which bring you satisfaction at work and at home and increase them!
So journey through this information knowing that there is hope, and give yourself permission to enjoy life in the midst of a busy schedule!
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What Happens To My Body When I Experience Stress
People react differently to stress. Some common symptoms of stress include sleeping problems, sweating or a change in appetite.6,7
Symptoms like these are triggered by a rush of stress hormones in your body which, when released, allow you to deal with pressures or threats. This is known as the ‘fight or flight’ response.
Hormones called adrenaline and noradrenaline raise your blood pressure, increase your heart rate and increase the rate at which you perspire. This prepares your body for an emergency response.8 These hormones can also reduce blood flow to your skin and reduce your stomach activity. Cortisol, another stress hormone, releases fat and sugar into your system to boost your energy.9
As a result, you may experience headaches, muscle tension, pain, nausea, indigestion and dizziness. You may also breathe more quickly, have palpitations or suffer from various aches and pains. In the long-term, you may be putting yourself at risk from heart attacks and stroke.10
When Should I Talk To A Doctor About Stress
Talk to your doctor about stress if you are feeling overwhelmed, are reliant on drugs or alcohol to cope with the feelings of stress, have thoughts of hurting yourself, or are experiencing other related conditions, like anxiety or depression. Your doctor can provide advice for better managing your stress, prescribe medication, or refer you to a mental health professional for further diagnosis and treatment.
The National Institute of Mental Health . 5 Things You Should Know About Stress. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/. Accessed July 15, 2021.
Child Mind Disorder. Acute Stress Disorder Basics. Accessed 4/11/2021.
U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, National Center for PTSD. Acute Stress Disorder. Accessed 4/11/2021.
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Experiment With Options That Soothe Your System
It may take some trial and error but finding stress reduction techniques that work for you can be helpful for years to come. Some things to try: gentle exercise , Epsom salt baths, breathing exercises like meditation, and even mindless activities like coloring or crafts. As you try things, keep a list of what works so you can access it again when you need it.
How To: Determine Your Stress Level In 2 Seconds
Are you stressed out right now? How stressed are you? Are you I need a vacation stressed or I need to go to the hospital stressed? This is a way for you to find out in 2 seconds, thus avoiding a time consuming visit the doctor. Of course, this is all in good fun. I wouldnt trust this to make any kind of accurate medical or psychological prognosis, but you know that.
When I first found the website with these images, it was 3:30am, completely dark in the room, and I was just about to make coffee. I saw these pictures moving very slowly, and then I read the text. These images were designed by a Japanese psychiatrist named Akiyoshi Kitaoka.
Bottom line, if you look at these and they are not moving, that means you are relaxed. If you look at these and they are moving slowly or even moderately, you are a little bit stressed and could use a vacation. If you look at these and they are moving really, really fast, you better call 911 cause some shit is about to start falling off of you at any minute. Just kidding, but it does mean that you are seriously feeling the stress. Take a chill pill immediately.
Via: Header Image Credit:
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When You’re Suffering From Chronic Stress
While some stress is good, if you’re suffering from these symptoms it may indicate the stress in your life is becoming a problem that’s interfering with your ability to function. If that’s the case, what do you do?
The American Psychological Association says that some things that can help include setting limits on what demands you’re placing on yourself, sharing your feelings with close friends or family members, and reminding yourself to try to keep a positive outlook wherever possible. They also suggest making a commitment to a single activity that will improve your overall health, like taking a short walk on your lunch break or cutting out that second cup of coffee in the morning. They also suggest trying some relaxation techniques to help you get a better night’s sleep, and also say that if stress is interfering with your daily life, psychologists can give you any number of techniques to help it all become more manageable.
Buy Yourself Time And Space
Allowing your brain time to adjust and “come down” from stressful activities helps your system to regulate in a healthy way. If you’ve been jumping from virtual meeting to lunch prep and immediately into a stressful family phone call, remember to add a little space. Pause before answering your phone, give yourself a five-minute breather between work and family time, set an alarm to remind you to stretch a few times a day, and find ways to delegate some tasks. Each little bit helps.
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Here Are Six Warning Signs And How To Control Your Levels Of Stress:
1. Panic Attacks
A sensation of feeling totally and utterly out of control of your entire body . Breathing exercises are very important when it comes to ease a panic attack. If its possible, go somewhere quiet and where you are alone, place a hand on your chest and one on your heart and breath deeply in and out of the nose.
This type of breathing is, in fact, a yogic breathing method but it works wonders for people suffering from a panic attack.
2. Racing Thoughts
These cause us to lose focus on the task at hand. Whether you are at work or simply at home cooking or having a conversation, racing thoughts can totally disrupt our mind. A great way to stop this is to move away from any electronic, take a pen and paper and make a list of five things youd like to accomplish in that day.
It may be work or home related, but by breaking a big task down into smaller chunks it makes us feel like we are in control and the project is manageable.
3. Muscle Tightness
Tightening our muscles at the thought of a stressful event can cause us to put pressure on our muscles and joint which can be painful. Another yogic exercise is to clench all the muscles for one breath in and then release them on the exhale.
This should be repeated for at least ten breaths. Another exercise is to inhale and clench one part of your body for five seconds and then release the breath. It will help to relax the muscles.
4. Stomach aches
To ease your digestive system, try a tea containing ginger or peppermint.
Improving Your Ability To Handle Stress
Get moving. Upping your activity level is one tactic you can employ right now to help relieve stress and start to feel better. Regular exercise can lift your mood and serve as a distraction from worries, allowing you to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed stress. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, and dancing are particularly effective, especially if you exercise mindfully .
Connect to others. The simple act of talking face-to-face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve stress when youre feeling agitated or insecure. Even just a brief exchange of kind words or a friendly look from another human being can help calm and soothe your nervous system. So, spend time with people who improve your mood and dont let your responsibilities keep you from having a social life. If you dont have any close relationships, or your relationships are the source of your stress, make it a priority to build stronger and more satisfying connections.
Engage your senses. Another fast way to relieve stress is by engaging one or more of your sensessight, sound, taste, smell, touch, or movement. The key is to find the sensory input that works for you. Does listening to an uplifting song make you feel calm? Or smelling ground coffee? Or maybe petting an animal works quickly to make you feel centered? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment to find what works best for you.
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Appetite Changes And Weight Gain
Changes in appetite are common during times of stress.
When you feel stressed out, you may find yourself with no appetite at all or overeating without noticing.
One small 2006 study of 272 female college students found that 81 percent reported that they experienced changes in appetite when they were stressed out, with 62 percent stating they had an increase in appetite .
Changes in appetite may also cause fluctuations in weight during stressful periods. For example, a study involving 1,355 people in the United States found that stress was associated with weight gain in adults already living with extra weight .
A third study from 2017 found that individuals with higher cortisol and insulin levels and higher levels of chronic stress were more likely to gain weight in the future . However, the study was limited in the scope of research in that participants were predominantly white females.
While these studies show an association between stress and changes in appetite or weight, more studies are needed to understand other possible factors are involved and how stress impacts different people.
Break The Worry Cycle
Most people worry about the same few things repeatedly. These items are like a nagging broken record, playing over and over again. To break the worry cycle, begin by identifying the situation causing you to worry and answer the following questions. Once you define the problem, you can then begin to solve the problem.
Defining the Problem
- The situation causing me worry is: ________.
- When I really get worried about it, the bad/unpleasant things I imagine happening are:
Solving the Problem
- Can I change the situation? yes/no
- Will I change the situation? yes/no. If you answered yes, what change will you make to the situation?
- Being realistic, what is the worst likely effect on me if this situation does turn out badly?
- What is my plan for what I will do if the situation does turn out badly?
There are many causes of stress, but the most frequent cause is uncertainty. A study was conducted after WWII regarding the bombings in and around London, England. As a result of these bombings, the number of ulcers increased in London by 50%. Yet the number of ulcers in the area surrounding London increased by 500%. Why? The residents of London were being bombed on a regular basis the residents in the area surrounding London were bombed less frequently, but with more irregularity and less predictability. The uncertainty of the bombings accounts for the 450% increase in ulcers.
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How To Relieve Stress
Before I offer you some tips on bringing your stress level down, let me warn you of one thing: your brain very well may fight you on doing any of these things. When it thinks it’s “protecting” you, slowing down may be seen as threatening. Simply notice the hesitation, remind yourself it’s OK, and give a few of these a try.
Mental And Emotional Signs
Stress can also affect how you think and feel, making it tough to get through your normal responsibilities and make rational decisions. In some cases, this kind of stress can impact behavior in other ways, and some people turn to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or other harmful substances to cope with their feelings.
Excessive stress may also affect your appetite, causing you to eat more or less than usual, and it may affect or eliminate your motivation to exercise and stay fit. Additionally, the feelings you get when youâre stressed may make you feel like withdrawing from friends and family and isolating yourself.
Some of the psychological and emotional signs that youâre stressed out include:
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Racing thoughts or constant worry
- Problems with your memory or concentration
- Making bad decisions
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How Tech Can Help Track Stress Levels
First, it was step trackers. Then, it was heart rate monitors. Now, stress monitoring is the latest evolution of wearable technology in the world of health and wellness and you can conveniently track it all on your phone.
Having a bad day? Your fitness tracker can now recognize that. Feeling ecstatic about personal news? Your fitness tracker can identify that, too. Well explore what makes this possible and how companies have tapped into new and existing technology to track stress levels.
How Can Your Doctor Test Your Stress Level
There is no standardized test to formally diagnose stress because stress is subjectivewhat feels very stressful for one person may not cause high levels of stress for another. Only the person experiencing stress can determine how severe it feels. A healthcare provider may use questionnaires to understand your stress and how it affects your life.
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Heart Rate Variability Testing
Put your hand on your heart and feel the beats. It probably feels like its going at exactly the same pace the amount of time between heartbeats is basically even. Of course, you could make it go up , but when youre just sitting quietly, it feels like your heart is basically pumping at a steady pace. But actually, there are tiny variations in the length of time between your heartbeats. Its not exactly the same amount of time from one beat to the next. This is called heart rate variability.
These changes arent obvious, but they are important changes in heart rate variability are a good measurement of overall stress load. Athletes already use it as a measurement of overtraining , but it works just as well for psychological stress like daily worry and exam stress in students. And in news that shouldnt be surprising at all, abnormalities in heart rate variability are associated with everything from cardiovascular disease to eating disorders to diabetes to depression and probably most other diseases where stress is a factor.
- Low variability = more stress. The more similar your heartbeats are, the more stress youre under.
- High variability = less stress. The more variation in the length of your heartbeats, the less stress youre under.
Heart rate variability measures all of the above, plus sleep deprivation, exercise stress, stress caused by a lousy diet