Go On A Cleaning Binge
Giving the inside of your pantry a good wipe-down or really getting into the sofa cushions with a vacuum attachment has multiple stress reducing benefits on top of fewer visits from icky vermin: its a project that requires a little planning, but some physical activityboth of which Kissen says can reduce stressand is likely to result in a sense of achievement that lifts your mood. And working mindfully at it can reduce stress even more: one study found that folks who were told to stay gently focused on what they were doing while washing dishes boosted their effect
What Are The Signs Of Stress
How you might feel
You may behave differently if youre stressed. You may:
- withdraw from other people or snap at them
- be indecisive or inflexible
- have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep
- experience sexual problems
- smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs more than usual.
If the stress is long-lasting, you may notice your sleep and memory are affected, your eating habits change, or you feel less inclined to exercise.
Some research has also linked long-term stress to gastrointestinal conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome or stomach ulcers, as well as conditions like cardiovascular disease.
Point Your Brain At A Problem
If the stress is more mental than physical and you feel your mind looping around itself, give yourself a discrete task, such as organizing your shoes or doing a word puzzle. When youre stressed, your brain may be saying, weve got a problem to solve so it keeps spinning. Thats a good time to engage your mind, says Kissen. If you give it a task to focus on, youll feel calmer and be better able to deal with whats actually stressing you out.
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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.
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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These Fun And Effective Ideas Will Help When Anxiety Is Getting The Best Of You
I dont know about you, but even in normal, not particularly chaotic times, I know when Im stressedmy shoulders tense up and fuse with my ears, my digestion gets wonky, and according to my boyfriend and kids, I become especially delightful to be around. Stress looks different for different people, but its usually some version of your brain and body crankily pushing back against all youre trying to manage.
The question is, what can we do to relieve stress, especially if were stuck inside? Because not to stress you out further, but both chronic and acute stress can have negative impacts on our health, and can lead us to engage in less-than-wise escapist habits.
When we think about the body on stress, its really fuel for the fight-or-flight response, says Debra Kissen, Ph.D., the co-chair of the Anxiety and Depression Association of Americas education committee and co-author of Rewire Your Anxious Brain For Teens. This is helpful when we have to get in gear to, say, lift a car off a small child or flee an ax-wielding horror movie villain. Its just that when our brain continues to feel that were in danger when were not, that stress starts to create all kinds of physical and emotional problems. Add anxietydread and worry about what may happen nextand that doesnt help our stress levels.
Thats why we asked the experts for their best stress-relieving activities that you can have at the ready, even if you cant get outside.
Your Bodys Response To Stress
When youre faced with stress, certain chemicals in your body are released. These hormones trigger many changes in your body. For instance, your:
Blood pressure may rise
Adapting to constant, rapid change
Worrying about your finances and the economy
Handling a major life event, such as changing jobs or moving to a new home
Handling more than one major life event at the same time, for instance, dealing with a family illness while changing jobs
Juggling many roles and responsibilities, such as spouse or life partner, parent, friend, employee, and caregiver for aging parents
Going from one challenging situation to the next without taking time to relax
Being overwhelmed by technology such as, keeping up with cell phone messages, e-mails, and text messages
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How Much Stress Is Too Much
Because of the widespread damage stress can cause, its important to know your own limit. But just how much stress is too much differs from person to person. Some people seem to be able to roll with lifes punches, while others tend to crumble in the face of small obstacles or frustrations. Some people even thrive on the excitement of a high-stress lifestyle.
Factors that influence your stress tolerance level include:
Your support network. A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against stress. When you have people you can count on, lifes pressures dont seem as overwhelming. On the flip side, the lonelier and more isolated you are, the greater your risk of succumbing to stress.
Your sense of control. If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, its easier to take stress in stride. On the other hand, if you believe that you have little control over your lifethat youre at the mercy of your environment and circumstancesstress is more likely to knock you off course.
Your attitude and outlook. The way you look at life and its inevitable challenges makes a huge difference in your ability to handle stress. If youre generally hopeful and optimistic, youll be less vulnerable. Stress-hardy people tend to embrace challenges, have a stronger sense of humor, believe in a higher purpose, and accept change as an inevitable part of life.
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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Is Stress Always Bad
Feeling stressed can be normal, healthy and helpful depending on the situation. Stress is the fight-or-flight response that gets you through job interviews, impromptu speeches and those awkward encounters with your ex. In these situations, stress helps you to overcome a short-term challenge that you know you can handle. Its only a problem when its constant or the situation is out of your control. At times like these, its important to know how to cope with stress.
The Mind And Mental Health: How Stress Affects The Brain
Stress continues to be a major American health issue, according to the American Psychological Association. More than one-third of adults report that their stress increased over the past year. Twenty-four percent of adults report experiencing extreme stress, up from 18 percent the year before.
Its well-known that stress can be a detriment to overall health. But can stress actually change the physiology of the brain? Science says yes.
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When To See The Doctor For Stress
Over time, stress can have a major impact on your physical or mental health. If you have tried to manage your stress on your own but are still struggling, reach out to your doctor. They may be able to offer more techniques or refer you to a mental health counselor for additional support.
Call your doctor immediately if your stress is causing you to have suicidal thoughts or use drugs or alcohol more frequently. They can provide resources and guidance to help you manage your stress.
When To See Your Gp About Your Stress Levels
If you’ve tried self-help techniques and they aren’t working, you should go to see your GP. They may suggest other coping techniques for you to try or recommend some form of counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy.
If your stress is causing serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, you may need to take medication or further tests.
Mental health issues, including stress, anxiety and depression, are the reason for one-in-five visits to a GP.
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Gray Hair The Urge To Pee A Sharpened Sense Of Smell And Many More
The stress doesnt have to be major to do it: Frederick Chen, MD, chief of family medicine at Harborview Medical Center and professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, says even small stressors aggravating emails, subtweets have an effect.
The small stresses of everyday life can cause daily, low-level stress that activates stress hormones in the body, which ultimately affects how people feel, he says. The interesting thing is that we dont always know why people respond in the way they do.
Often, a long-term build-up of these minor stresses when the body doesnt go back to normal causes people to experience weird symptoms. Acute stress tends not to have an effect on health, says Sharon Bergquist, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Its the activation of chronic stress when people dont go back to their baseline of rest and recovery, that tends to affect people.
Here are some of the most unusual things stress can cause in the body:
Stress And Physical Illness
When we feel under stress, our body kicks into high gear to deal with the threat. Our heartbeat, breathing rate and blood pressure all go up. The longer we feel stressed, the greater the demand on our body.The more often we are placed under stress, the more often we have to use energy to cope. There is growing evidence that stress may contribute to physical illness such as cardiovascular disease , high blood pressure, proneness to infection and chronic fatigue.Whatever the cause, physical diseases need appropriate medical management before any attempt is made at stress management. Discuss with your doctor how stress management may be used to support treatment of your physical symptoms.
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Plasticity And The Brain: The Bodys Recovery System
Plasticity, or neuroplasticity, refers to the ways that neural pathways are able to re-form in the brain. Its true that these pathways like the one between the hippocampus and the amygdala can get severely damaged due to constant exposure to stress, but such changes are not necessarily permanent. While stress can negatively affect the brain, the brain and body can recover.
Young adults, especially, are able to recover from the effects of stress, according to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . Age has a direct correlation with the reversibility of stress-related damage. Its much more difficult for older adults to regain or create new neural pathways than their younger counterparts.
Thats not to say all hope is lost for older adults. PNAS points out that interventions, or activities that combat stress wear-and-tear on the brain, are effective regardless of age. Interventions including activities like exercising regularly, socializing and finding purpose in life enable plasticity.
It can seem like stress is an inevitable part of life, but chronic stress can have real and significant consequences on the brain. Understanding these effects and how to combat them can help promote overall health.
Effects Of Chronic Stress On The Brain
While stress itself is not necessarily problematic, the buildup of cortisol in the brain can have long-term effects. Thus, chronic stress can lead to health problems.
Cortisols functions are part of the natural process of the body. In moderation, the hormone is perfectly normal and healthy. Its functions are multiple, explains the Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science. In addition to restoring balance to the body after a stress event, cortisol helps regulate blood sugar levels in cells and has utilitarian value in the hippocampus, where memories are stored and processed.
But when chronic stress is experienced, the body makes more cortisol than it has a chance to release. This is when cortisol and stress can lead to trouble. High levels of cortisol can wear down the brains ability to function properly. According to several studies, chronic stress impairs brain function in multiple ways. It can disrupt synapse regulation, resulting in the loss of sociability and the avoidance of interactions with others. Stress can kill brain cells and even reduce the size of the brain. Chronic stress has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
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Hair Loss And Prematurely Graying Hair
Yufang Lin, MD, an integrative medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic, says stress can cause a temporary condition called telogen effluvium, which stops hair follicles from growing. This can lead hair strands to fall out more easily over time, often when someone is washing or brushing their hair. Usually, the hair will start growing back once the stressful period ends, Lin says.
Chronic stress can also cause people to lose pigment in their hair, resulting in premature graying, according to Chen. You see this often with our elected officials over time you can see that the level of work and constantly being on has an effect on people, he says.
Scientists recently uncovered a potential mechanism explaining why stress induces premature graying. Researchers found that the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response, can affect the stem cells responsible for hair pigment. Sympathetic nerves that extend into the hair follicles release stress hormones, causing pigment-related stem cells to leave the hair follicle. Without those cells, no new pigment cells can be made so all new hair becomes gray.
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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Signs And Symptoms Of Too Much Stress
Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain caused by adverse circumstances.
At one point or another, most people deal with feelings of stress. In fact, one study found that 33% of adults reported experiencing high levels of perceived stress (
The condition is associated with a long list of physical and mental symptoms.
This article will look at 11 common signs and symptoms of stress.
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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