Should I Get A Stress Test
A stress test doesnt measure the stress in your life, but it does measure the stress on your heart, or rather how hard your heart is working and what it looks like when youre walking very fast on a steep incline on a treadmill. People usually get a stress test when they have multiple risk factors for heart disease, or if theyve been having certain symptoms like chest pain or palpitations, says Haythe.
How To Harness Stress
This is all very good and well, but it doesnt distract from the fact that in an interview or before giving a speech stress can be enough to turn you into a nervous wreck and have you shaking and stuttering and unable to perform optimally. The trick then is in these situations to try and harness that nervous energy and to direct it into something a little more positive and effective. One way to do this is to try and gee yourself up in order to make sure that when you have a fight or flight response you are more suited to the former rather than the latter. Try listening to some up-beat and positive music, use positive affirmations, or try doing a bit of a workout. This will help to psych you up and rather than trying to suppress the stress you can instead embrace it and use it to motivate you to success.
Ways To Manage Stress
The easiest way to manage stress is to immerse yourself in activities that reduce anxiety-provoking thoughts and feelings.
For starters, incorporate regular exercise into your weekly routine. This can be as simple as taking a stroll around your neighborhood. Disconnecting from the world and your smartphone; can do wonders for your state of mind.
Yoga or meditation;are also an ideal way to both relax and work up a sweat. Yoga teaches you to control your breathing, which in turn can help you power through stressful situations when they arise.
Focus on activities and hobbies you enjoy. Read a book at night if youre into novels. Listen to your favorite artist while you cook if youre a fan of music. Play with your dog if animals help soothe your mood. Everyone has their own way of resetting their emotions. Find what works best for you.
You can also add positive affirmations, or positive self-talk, to your routine. Take a piece of paper and write down personal statements you can think about or say aloud several times a day. As an example, you may say Today will be a good day. I will focus on the things I can control and wont stress about the things I cant control.
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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.
Rising Blood Pressure & Blood Sugar
Your heartbeat and blood pressure increase in response to stress. This change helped prehistoric humans survive by helping them run away faster or fight harder.
Short-term increases in blood pressure are expected in response to stress. Chronic responses to stress are thought to contribute to hypertension. This increases the chances of kidney failure, stroke, and heart attack or even heart failure.
Constant stress produces high levels of adrenaline, which can raise your blood pressure and your blood sugar. High blood pressure and blood sugar can weaken the heart and many other organs. This can also explain why you might have sugar cravings.
Excessive caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco can increase your adrenaline.
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How Stress Affects Sleep
This infographic from Insider Living shows how stress affects sleep.
- 26% of women report trouble sleeping at least once a week compared to only 16% of men.
- 19% of individuals ages 25-64 admit to losing sleep due to stress a few nights per week.
- 54% say that stress or anxiety increased their anxiety about falling asleep at night.
- 52% of men and 42% of women reported that stress affected their ability to remain focused the next day.
When To Get Help For Stress
Stress is a normal part of dealing with what everyday life throws at you. But stress can complicate things when it becomes chronic. As outlined above, repeated stress can lead to many future health problems.
If you feel like youre losing control or have issues getting through the day and typical tasks, contact your primary care physician;to discuss ways to reduce your stress. Your doctor may refer you to a mental health provider;to provide further assistance. The INTEGRIS Health Mental Health Clinic;can help you navigate your troubles with treatment options, free anonymous online screenings and other resources.
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Common Signs And Symptoms Of Stress
How Does Anxiety Affect The Body
All of these disorders include anxiety in some way. Standard anxiety related to events or situations is normal. However, these anxiety disorders are not. Theyre often caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain that often needs to be corrected by medication. For most of this discussion, were talking about general anxiety, not one of these conditions.
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More Prone To Illnesses
The body is so intent on reacting to stress it can leave your immune system prone to illness. In other words, it can get too depleted and struggle to defend against viral or bacterial infections. The cortisol produced during stress reactions can decrease your lymphocytes, important white blood cells your immune system;uses to fend off foreign invaders.
Stress May Dampen Sexual Desire Or Performance
Your love life can really suffer when you are stressed. Not only can stress reduce sexual desire in both men and women, it can also cause sexual dysfunction.
This may include erectile dysfunction in men and failure to achieve orgasm in women.
While stress does not normally affect fertility, people who are trying to have a baby have more success conceiving while on vacation than at other times of the year.
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Foods High In Fat And Sugar
Cravings for processed and sugary foods may be heightened when you are feeling stressed, but it is important to avoid consuming these in high quantities. Not only can they be detrimental to your overall health, but they can also make you feel worse in the long-term. Sugar, for example, will provide a short burst of energy and temporary relief from stressful feelings, but this will be swiftly followed by a ‘low’ period when your blood sugar levels crash. This can lead to irritability and increased food cravings, which can put a strain on the body.
According to a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, high consumption of processed fats can increase the risk of depression. Researchers found that people with diets high in processed fats had a 58% higher risk of depression than those who ate whole foods. Furthermore, processed foods contain high levels of hydrogenated or oxidised fats which can block the production of essential fats needed to protect the cell membrane and nerve health.;
Do Women React To Stress Differently Than Men Do
Yes, studies show that women are more likely than men to experience . Women who are stressed are more likely than men who are stressed to experience depression and anxiety. Experts do not fully know the reason for the differences, but it may be related to how mens and womens bodies process stress hormones. Long-term stress especially is more likely to cause problems with moods and anxiety in women.
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Stress Is A Risk Factor For Cardiovascular Disease
There is a link between stress and an increase in blood pressure
Many people with high blood pressure have no obvious symptoms, although some may develop a headache. If high blood pressure is not treated, it can start to weaken the heart and damage the lining of the arteries surrounding the heart, leading to a build-up of fats and cholesterol and an eventual narrowing of the arteries.
This increases your risk of stroke, heart failure and a heart attack. Heart palpitations are also commonly associated with stress.
Techniques To Counter Chronic Stress
Many people are unable to find a way to put the brakes on stress. Chronic low-level stress keeps the HPA axis activated, much like a motor that is idling too high for too long. After a while, this has an effect on the body that contributes to the health problems associated with chronic stress.
Persistent epinephrine surges can damage blood vessels and arteries, increasing blood pressure and raising risk of heart attacks or strokes. Elevated cortisol levels create physiological changes that help to replenish the body’s energy stores that are depleted during the stress response. But they inadvertently contribute to the buildup of fat tissue and to weight gain. For example, cortisol increases appetite, so that people will want to eat more to obtain extra energy. It also increases storage of unused nutrients as fat.
Fortunately, people can learn techniques to counter the stress response.
Relaxation response. Dr. Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, has devoted much of his career to learning how people can counter the stress response by using a combination of approaches that elicit the relaxation response. These include deep abdominal breathing, focus on a soothing word , visualization of tranquil scenes, repetitive prayer, yoga, and tai chi.
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How Can You Help Yourself
If you’re feeling stressed, there are some things you can try to feel less tense and overwhelmed.
1. Recognise when stress is a problem
Its important to connect the physical and emotional signs youre experiencing to the pressures you are faced with. Dont ignore physical warning signs such as tense muscles, tiredness, headaches or migraines.
Think about whats causing your stress. Sort them into issues with a practical solution, things that will get better with time and things you can’t do anything about. Take control by taking small steps towards the things you can improve.
Make a plan to address the things that you can. This might involve setting yourself realistic expectations and prioritising essential commitments. If you feel overwhelmed, ask for help and say no to things you cant take on.
2. Think about where you can make changes
Are you taking on too much? Could you hand over some things to someone else? Can you do things in a more leisurely way? You may need to prioritise things and reorganise your life so youre not trying to do everything at once.
3. Build supportive relationships
Find close friends or family who can offer help and practical advice can support you in managing stress. Joining a club or a course can help to expand your social network and encourage you to do something different. Activities like volunteering can change your perspective and have a beneficial impact on your mood.;
4. Eat healthily
5. Be aware of your smoking and drinking
8. Be mindful
What Are The Symptoms Of Stress
Stress can affect all aspects of your life, including your emotions, behaviors, thinking ability, and physical health. No part of the body is immune. But, because people handle stress differently, symptoms of stress can vary. Symptoms can be vague and may be the same as those caused by medical conditions. So it is important to discuss them with your doctor. You may experience any of the following symptoms of stress.
Emotional symptoms of stress include:
- Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
- Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
- Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
- Feeling bad about yourself , lonely, worthless, and depressed
- Avoiding others
Physical symptoms of stress include:
- Low energy
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Video: Basics Of Farm Stress
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.
When Eustress Becomes Stress
In some cases though you will want to control stress particularly when it starts to become unhealthy. As mentioned stress that lasts for very prolonged periods can begin to take a serious toll on your immune system and on your heart and this can cause you to get ill and put you at risk of high blood pressure and other problems.
In these scenarios you need to address your stress and that means finding ways to bring it under control both as it arises and over time. If you are suffering chronic stress then seeing a therapist, or trying to address the causes of your stress is important. Meanwhile for short term stress, you may want to try meditation or other relaxation techniques to try and bring your pulse back under control.
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How Exercise Can Help To Reduce Stress
Exercising can help to reduce stress by promoting the release of endorphins, chemicals that help to improve your overall sense of wellbeing.;
In the 2014 Stress Reduction in America study by the American Psychological Association, 57% of women reported that exercise made them feel good about themselves. They also reported more energy and less stress after exercise.;
Despite this, 43% of women said that they had skipped exercise when feeling stressed, and although they reported more positive results from exercise than men did, women exercised less frequently.;
Here are some key insights to help you to choose what type of exercise to include and when you should exercise in order to alleviate stress.;
How Can A Nutritionist Help With Stress And Diet
Seeing a professional such as a nutritionist is helpful if you want to make long-term positive changes to your diet and manage stress. A nutritionist;will provide tailored nutritional advice and support to ensure all your needs are catered for and your specific goals are met. This will involve an assessment to pinpoint your nutritional needs and what stress relieving foods will be the most beneficial for you.
As part of your assessment, you will look at triggers and contributing factors, as well as any underlying imbalances such as adrenal hormones and thyroid problems. Following this, you will likely be given a specific eating plan to follow, which may also outline lifestyle changes such as physical activity, which will play an important role in stress management for the long-term.
A nutritional therapist will look at all aspects of your diet and lifestyle and can help with the way forward. They will work out what is causing your body to be stressed.
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