What Can I Do About Stress
Fortunately, you can manage stress in ways such as:
- Exercising regularly. It can relieve stress, tension, anxiety and depression. Consider a nature walk, meditation or yoga.
- Making time for friends and family. Its important to maintain social connections and talk with people you trust.
- Getting enough sleep. Adults should aim for seven to nine hours a night.
- Maintaining a positive attitude.
- Practicing relaxation techniques while listening to music.
- Finding a stimulating hobby that can be fun and distract you from negative thoughts or worries.
Figuring out how stress pushes your buttons is an important step in dealing with it. Identify sources of stress in your life and look for ways to reduce and manage them. A health care professional can help you find ways to manage your stress.
Stress management or relaxation classes can also help. Look for them at community colleges, rehab programs, in hospitals or by calling a therapist in your community.
Adopting serenity in the face of lifes challenges may help improve your perception of stress and result in better quality of life and heart health.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
The Sympathetic Nervous System Response
Your bodys fight-or-flight mechanism is a natural, life-saving system thats highly efficient and effective when you have to use your muscles quickly. However, the stress of modern life can cause it to short circuit.
If youre under constant stress, rather than short-lived or occasional stress, the hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, triggers an alarm that stays on.
The Top 10 Things You Can Do Now To Reduce The Effects Of Stressand To Stop Burning Down The House
For Acute Physical Injuries, we need a Quick Fix, but for Chronic Illnesses they developed overtime from chronic stress, so the quick fix model does not work. We need to get to the Root Cause if we are going to make a difference.
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Ways To Manage Stress And Help Your Heart
Want to turn your stress around and help your heart in the process? Try these five simple tips.
Stay positive. People with heart disease who maintain an upbeat attitude are less likely to die than those who are more negative, according to research. Just having a good laugh can help your heart. Laughter has been found to lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in the arteries, and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.
Meditate. This practice of inward-focused thought and deep breathing has been shown to reduce heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure. Anyone can learn to meditate. Just take a few minutes to sit somewhere quiet, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Meditation’s close relatives, yoga and prayer, can also relax the mind and body.
Exercise. Every time you are physically active, whether you take a walk or play tennis, your body releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins. Exercising not only melts away stress, but it also protects against heart disease by lowering your blood pressure, strengthening your heart muscle, and helping you maintain a healthy weight.
Unplug. It’s impossible to escape stress when it follows you everywhere. Cut the cord. Avoid emails and TV news. Take time each dayeven if it’s for just 10 or 15 minutesto escape from the world.
Find your own path to stress relief. Take a bubble bath, listen to music, or read a book. Any technique is effective if it works for you.
What Causes Anxiety Disorders
Its a question that is so difficult to answer. Its not like having a cold – you cant simply wake up with an anxiety disorder because you forgot to wash your hands before picking your nose.
Anxiety disorders are forged over years of experiences. They have a genetic component, an upbringing component, an environmental component. Every experience youve ever had can craft your anxiety disorder, just as any experience youve had in life can ensure you never get one.
Anxiety may even have no real cause at all.
There are also many forms of anxiety. There are different causes of OCD, causes of panic attacks, causes of PTSD, causes of generalized anxiety disorder, causes of phobias every experience and every anxiety is unique in some way.
Still, the best way to understand what created your anxiety disorder is to break it down into the two main causes:
These do not account for all anxiety symptoms. In fact, anxiety can, in some ways, create itself something that we will explore near the end of the guide. But generally, the two causes of anxiety are your body, and your experiences in the world around you.
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Physical Conditions That Could Be Causing Your Anxiety
Anxiety symptoms may be giving you important clues about your health.
General Anxiety Disorder is a common mental health condition thats typified by anxious feelings taking over, making it difficult to get on with ordinary life. Treatment is usually talking therapy, sometimes combined with medication.
NHS Choices lists numerous anxiety symptoms, including feelings of dread, sweating, shortness of breath, panic attacks, fatigue, irritability and trouble concentrating. But though anxiety is a medical condition in its own right, there can sometimes be a physical reason for your symptoms – and treating it can bring the anxious feelings to an end.
So if you think you have a problem with anxiety, its important not to self-diagnose. Instead, head to your GP to have any other causes ruled out first.
According to a group of doctors writing in the journal Psychiatric Times, there are six key systems in the body that can cause these anxiety-type symptoms. They are cardiorespiratory , neurological , metabolic , chronic illness, digestive and endocrine . Heres a closer look at what these include:
1. Haywire hormones
Adrenal dysfunction happens when the adrenal glands, which produce our hormones, go wrong. When they produce the wrong amount of one or more of our hormones, it can cause fatigue, disorientation, increased heart rate and trouble concentrating – all typical anxiety symptoms.
2. Overactive thyroid
4. Heart disease, heart failure and heart attack
5. Sleep apnea
Anxiety Caused By Lifestyle Habits
Never underestimate the effect your lifestyle can have on your anxiety levels. For example, some research has shown that those that do not exercise are more prone to developing anxiety, because their body has unused energy, and because they start producing less stress-coping hormones.
Similarly, although diet does not traditionally cause significant anxiety, it can still play a role. Caffeine, for example, can exacerbate mild anxiety symptoms. Unhealthy foods can cause you to feel unhealthy, which in turn causes stress that leads to anxiety. Drug use is frequently a cause of anxiety.
This is why even with therapy and medicine, a change to lifestyle habits is often necessary.
For more information, consider the following topics to read:
- Anxiety and Television
- Anxiety and Dehydration
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Working Through Stress And Learning To Cope More Effectively
There are many techniques to deal with stress, the underlying issues that trigger stress, and the hazards of stress. If you feel stressed out, or overwhelmed, you should know that life doesnt have to be this way.
Together, you and Dr. Shawna, will look into your life to find the sources of your stress, stress triggers, and figure out what to change, or implement. These things may involve your work, your family, or all other areas of your personal life. You will also learn techniques and coping skills to help you relax.
Breathing And Relaxation Exercises
Many people find exercises that focus on breathing and muscle relaxation to be helpful in relieving stress. The playlist below will help you to understand how stress works and start feeling better. These exercises can be done anywhere and are designed to help you feel more relaxed in general, as well as helping you feel calmer if you are becoming stressed.
This playlist is free to download, and you can also stream it using the Soundcloud website or app. You can download and listen to individual tracks if there are particular exercises that work best for you. If you’re listening to it for the first time, it’s best to start from the beginning.
To access a BSL version of this playlist, .
Find out more by checking out these 10 stress busters.
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We All React Differently To Stressful Situations
What is stressful to one person may not be stressful to another. Almost anything can cause stress. For some people, just thinking about something or several small things can cause stress. How we react to a situation will affect how stress affects us and our physical and mental health. A person who feels they do not have enough resources to cope will be more likely to have a stronger stress reaction, and also can trigger health problems.
Autoimmune Disease And Stress: Is There A Link
- By Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
A new study has raised the possibility that stress may cause autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, because it found a higher incidence of autoimmune diseases among people who were previously diagnosed with stress-related disorders.
I have patients who heard about this research and are saying, “I knew it!”
But before we accept a potential link between stress and autoimmune disease, lets look at some details of the study and consider how we define the terms “autoimmune disease,” “stress,” and “stress-related disorder.”
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How Do I Manage The Physical Symptoms Of My Mental Illness
So youve found out that your constant muscle aches are the result of mental stress. What can you do about it?
Theres no silver bullet when it comes to mental health, and what works for one person might not help the next person. That being said, there are a few ways you can try to deal with your stress that might alleviate your symptoms.
One method is to use up that cortisol or adrenaline for good. If you can, engage in some cardio exercise, such as a long walk, a run, or a dance session. This might help you take your mind off the stress, even if for a moment.
Another way to deal with stress is to do something ultra-calming, whether its engaging in a hobby, slow exercise, or deep breathing techniques whatever helps you feel calm is worth practicing often.
Remember, even if it doesnt cure your anxiety or stress in the long run, a feeling of temporary relaxation can be good for you.
Put some long-term plans into place to help you deal with stress, Jones suggests. Is there some activity, task, or stressor they can delegate to someone else or simply no longer do? Can they increase their social support network or rely more on their social support network? she says.
If youve been dealing with stress or mental illness, youve probably considered therapy thats if youre not already in therapy. But if youre looking for extra encouragement to find a therapist, this is it.
Relax Sleep And Digest
If your body is handling stress properly, a relaxation response will follow the fight-or-flight response. This occurs due to a release of countering hormones.
During the relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system, your body shifts back into equilibrium. It allows your heart rate and blood pressure to return to baseline levels and enables activities such as digestion and sleep to resume at their normal pace.
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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 And Heart Health
Whats stressful to one person isnt for another. Happy events and unhappy events can cause stress.
Everyone feels and reacts to stress in different ways. How much stress you experience and how you react to it can lead to a wide variety of health problems and thats why its critical to know what you can do about it.
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What Is Psychological Stress
Psychological stress describes what people feel when they are under mental, physical, or emotional pressure. Although it is normal to experience some psychological stress from time to time, people who experience high levels of psychological stress or who experience it repeatedly over a long period of time may develop health problems .
Stress can be caused both by daily responsibilities and routine events, as well as by more unusual events, such as a trauma or illness in oneself or a close family member. When people feel that they are unable to manage or control changes caused by cancer or normal life activities, they are in distress. Distress has become increasingly recognized as a factor that can reduce the quality of life of cancer patients. There is even some evidence that extreme distress is associated with poorer clinical outcomes. Clinical guidelines are available to help doctors and nurses assess levels of distress and help patients manage it.
This fact sheet provides a general introduction to the stress that people may experience as they cope with cancer. More detailed information about specific psychological conditions related to stress can be found in the Related Resources and Selected References at the end of this fact sheet.
How Stress Influences Disease: Study Reveals Inflammation As The Culprit
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Stress wreaks havoc on the mind and body. Until now, it has not been clear exactly how stress influences disease and health. Now researchers have found that chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response. The research shows for the first time that the effects of psychological stress on the body’s ability to regulate inflammation can promote the development and progression of disease.
Stress wreaks havoc on the mind and body. For example, psychological stress is associated with greater risk for depression, heart disease and infectious diseases. But, until now, it has not been clear exactly how stress influences disease and health.
A research team led by Carnegie Mellon University’s Sheldon Cohen has found that chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research shows for the first time that the effects of psychological stress on the body’s ability to regulate inflammation can promote the development and progression of disease.
“Inflammation is partly regulated by the hormone cortisol and when cortisol is not allowed to serve this function, inflammation can get out of control,” said Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty Professor of Psychology within CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
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Stress Management To Help Reverse Fatty Liver Disease
Regardless of whether stress plays a role in directly modulating the livers metabolic processes, stress is certainly a negative influence on overall health. Chronic stress has already been directly linked to many health problems, and likely contributes to fatty liver disease either directly or indirectly.
Effects Of Chronic Stress On Hematopoietic Stem Cells In Cardiovascular Diseases
Heidt and colleagues demonstrated how stress increases the levels of circulating inflammatory leukocytes by direct stimulation of hematopoietic stem cell proliferation . In this new pathway, stress induces the release of noradrenaline by sympathetic nerve fibers targeting blood vessels in the bone marrow of mice. The catecholamine then acts on mesenchymal stem cells located in the hematopoietic niche, which express high levels of the 3 adrenergic receptors. One of the consequences of this interaction is the downregulation of the chemokine CXCL12, a known target of noradrenaline, which is normally produced by several types of niche cells, including mesenchymal stem cells. This releases the inhibition typically exerted by CXCL12 on the proliferation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and on leukocyte migration, thus promoting cell division and leukocyte mobilization into the bloodstream.
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How Does Psychological Stress Affect People Who Have Cancer
People who have cancer may find the physical, emotional, and social effects of the disease to be stressful. Those who attempt to manage their stress with risky behaviors such as smoking or drinking alcohol or who become more sedentary may have a poorer quality of life after cancer treatment. In contrast, people who are able to use effective coping strategies to deal with stress, such as relaxation and stress management techniques, have been shown to have lower levels of depression, anxiety, and symptoms related to the cancer and its treatment. However, there is no evidence that successful management of psychological stress improves cancer survival.
Evidence from experimental studies does suggest that psychological stress can affect a tumors ability to grow and spread. For example, some studies have shown that when mice bearing human tumors were kept confined or isolated from other miceconditions that increase stresstheir tumors were more likely to grow and spread . In one set of experiments, tumors transplanted into the mammary fat pads of mice had much higher rates of spread to the lungs and lymph nodes if the mice were chronically stressed than if the mice were not stressed. Studies in mice and in human cancer cells grown in the laboratory have found that the stress hormone norepinephrine, part of the bodys fight-or-flight response system, may promote angiogenesis and metastasis.