What Are Some Ways To Prevent Stress
Many daily strategies can help you keep stress at bay:
- Try relaxation activities, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises and muscle relaxation. Programs are available online, in smartphone apps, and at many gyms and community centers.
- Take good care of your body each day. Eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep help your body handle stress much better.
- Stay positive and practice gratitude, acknowledging the good parts of your day or life.
- Accept that you cant control everything. Find ways to let go of worry about situations you cannot change.
- Learn to say no to additional responsibilities when you are too busy or stressed.
- Stay connected with people who keep you calm, make you happy, provide emotional support and help you with practical things. A friend, family member or neighbor can become a good listener or share responsibilities so that stress doesnt become overwhelming.
What Is The Difference Between Stress And Anxiety
To understand stress as a biological process, it is important to know the difference between stress and anxiety.
Stress is a physical change that takes place in the body. It occurs because of different stress factors. Examples of stress factors include meeting new people or being physically threatened. Stress can be measured by measuring changes in the levels of stress-related hormones in the body. These hormones control human behaviour in response to a specific stress factor.
For example, imagine you are playing laser tag. The game simulates a predator-prey relationship or fighting. You are trying to tag somebody while trying to avoid being tagged yourself. This triggers your “fight or flight” response. When playing the game, you will naturally become stressed. Your stress hormone levels will go up, causing you to be more alert and active. In this case, stress is beneficial. But having a constant increase in stress levels can actually lead to depression and mental health issues. Thats why it is important to know the different types of stress.
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, or of being overwhelmed. It usually results from being afraid of something. For example, it is common to feel anxious about an upcoming test because you are afraid of failing or doing poorly. Anxiety is a negative feeling in response to stress.
The Effects Of Chronic Stress
Your nervous system isnt very good at distinguishing between emotional and physical threats. If youre super stressed over an argument with a friend, a work deadline, or a mountain of bills, your body can react just as strongly as if youre facing a true life-or-death situation. And the more your emergency stress system is activated, the easier it becomes to trigger, making it harder to shut off.
If you tend to get stressed out frequently, like many of us in todays demanding world, your body may exist in a heightened state of stress most of the time. And that can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can suppress your immune system, upset your digestive and reproductive systems, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speed up the aging process. It can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
Health problems caused or exacerbated by stress include:
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Stress Can Ruin Your Heart
Stress can physically damage your heart muscle.
Stress damages your heart because stress hormones increase your heart rate and constrict your blood vessels. This forces your heart to work harder, and increases your blood pressure.
According to the American Institute of Stress, the incidence rate of heart attacks and sudden death increases after major stress inducing incidents, like hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.
In the ancient days of hunter-gatherers, harsh conditions forced people to eat as much as possible when food was available in order to store up for lean times.
That compulsion lives on inside us, and comes out when we are stressed.
Researchers at the University of Miami found that when people find themselves in stressful situations, they are likely to consume 40 percent more food than normal.
Those scientists recommended turning off the nightly newscast before eating dinner, to keep bad news and overeating at bay.
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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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.
Daily Life And Busyness
Day-to-day stressors are our daily inconveniences. They include things like misplacing keys, running late, and forgetting to bring an important item with you when leaving the house. Usually, these are just minor setbacks, but if they become frequent, they become a source of anxiety affecting physical and/or psychological health.
The stress of being too busy is getting more and more common. These days, people are busier than ever and that adds a lot of stress to their lives.
In some cases, busyness is due to necessity, such as having to work a second job. Other times, it is due to guilt and not wanting to disappoint others. People may not say “no” and end up having little time for themselves, or they overlook their own basic needs, such as eating right and exercising due to lack of time.
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Stress Makes It Difficult To Control Your Emotions
Its no secret that stressed people can fly off the handle. But new research reveals just how little stress is actually required for you to lose your cool.
A 2013 study by neuroscientists found that even mild levels of stress can impair our ability to control our emotions.
In the study, researchers taught subjects stress control techniques. But after participants were put under mild stress by having their hands dunked in icy water they could not easily calm themselves down when shown pictures of snakes or spiders.
Our results suggest that even mild stress, such as that encountered in daily life, may impair the ability to use cognitive techniques known to control fear and anxiety, lead author Candace Raio, Ph.D., said in a press release.
Are There Organizations That Can Help*
Yes, there are many. Your family doctor can often recommend a professional for you. Other examples include the Employee Assistance Programs or associations such as the Canadian Mental Health Association or the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction to name just a few.
- EAP programs are confidential, short term, counselling services for employees with problems that affect their work performance. The services of EAP providers are often purchased by your company. Check with your human resources department for contact information.
- CMHA‘s programs are meant to ensure that people whose mental health is endangered will find the help needed to cope with crisis, regain confidence, and return to community, family and job.
- The CCSA promotes informed debate on substance abuse issues, and disseminates information on the nature, and assists organizations involved in substance abuse treatment, prevention and educational programming.
directly for more information about their services. Please note that mention of these organizations does not represent a recommendation or endorsement by CCOHS of these organizations over others of which you may be aware.)
For more information on mental health and workplace health, see the OSH Answers:
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Where Does Stress Come From And How Does It Make Us Sick
Where does stress come from? You may ask? Does it land in the brain or in the body?
We all know that stress is a normal part of everyday life. However, the answer to its origins is not that common among people. The truth is, there can be a lot of factors that contribute to feeling stressed such as the job, family, finances, children, etc. But when it comes to actual sources of stress, there is another story to tell.
1. So, where does stress come from?
According to a lot of research and studies, stress is the natural response coming from our body pointed to the demands that we place upon it. Whether they are mental, physical, or emotional, these demands trigger our natural chemicals and hormones. Cortisol and neuropeptides are the perfect examples of these hormones.
The more important part of anxiety is stressful thinking and feelings. Our internal worries, fears, and anxieties can be conjured through stress and that is the point that creates the sickness inside our body and brain.
Over the long haul, stress may transform into a state of chronic stress which causes diseases, mainly because of the changes in the body. This condition may also be linked to unhealthy habits such as smoking, overeating, etc. So the bottom line is that stress is more dangerous than we think and definitely makes us sick in a strange way.
2. Why is stress bad for you and how does it make you sick?
3. How to make stress go away and relieve the sickness?
Helping Your Child Cope
When kids can’t or won’t discuss their stressful issues, try talking about your own. This shows that you’re willing to tackle tough topics and are available to talk with when they’re ready. If a child shows symptoms that concern you and is unwilling to talk, consult a therapist or other mental health specialist.
Books can help young kids identify with characters in stressful situations and learn how they cope. Check out Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst Tear Soup by Pat Schweibert, Chuck DeKlyen, and Taylor Bills and Dinosaurs Divorce by Marc Brown and Laurene Krasny Brown.
Most parents have the skills to deal with their child’s stress. The time to seek professional attention is when any change in behavior persists, when stress is causing serious anxiety, or when the behavior causes significant problems at school or at home.
If you need help finding resources for your child, consult your doctor or the counselors and teachers at school.
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Stress Weakens Your Immune System
The connection between mind and body is often underestimated. But everyone has experienced a cold when they can least afford to.
Thats because the high demands stress puts on the body make the immune system suffer, which makes you more vulnerable to colds and infections.
The American Psychological Association recommends calming exercises, as well as social outlets, to relieve stress.
What Do We Know About Using And Overusing Our Internal Systems That Respond To Stress
Animal and human research has taught us much about our internal stress systems. When laboratory animals are exposed to a prolonged stress , they develop a stress syndrome. This syndrome consists of high blood pressure , loss of appetite, weight loss, muscle wasting, gastrointestinal ulcers, loss of reproductive function, suppression of the immune system, and depression. Researchers also noticed that stress of long duration sensitizes the stress system . That is, the system then overresponds to new stressors. They further noticed that the administration of certain drugs, such as amphetamines or cocaine, could also sensitize the stress response. Moreover, constant stress increases the self-administration of drugs in laboratory animals. So, a vicious cycle is induced. The more stress there is, the more mice seek the drugs, and the more the sensitivity to stress is increased!
Early separation from the mother has also been seen as another potent stressor in animals. Such separation has been linked to increased levels of the stress hormones that cause the stress syndrome, which includes depression. Studies in humans are under way to evaluate how maternal stress, even early in the pregnancy, can affect the developing fetus.
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Central Nervous And Endocrine Systems
Your central nervous system is in charge of your fight or flight response. In your brain, the hypothalamus gets the ball rolling, telling your adrenal glands to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rev up your heartbeat and send blood rushing to the areas that need it most in an emergency, such as your muscles, heart, and other important organs.
When the perceived fear is gone, the hypothalamus should tell all systems to go back to normal. If the CNS fails to return to normal, or if the stressor doesnt go away, the response will continue.
Chronic stress is also a factor in behaviors such as overeating or not eating enough, alcohol or drug abuse, and social withdrawal.
Can Workplace Stress Be Defined
We hear a lot about stress, but what is it? As stated by the Canadian Mental Health Association:
âStress is a reaction to a situation â it isn’t about the actual situation. We usually feel stressed when we think that the demands of the situation are greater than our resources to deal with that situation. For example, someone who feels comfortable speaking in public may not worry about giving a presentation, while someone who isn’t confident in their skills may feel a lot of stress about an upcoming presentation. Common sources of stress may include major life events, like moving or changing jobs. Long-term worries, like a long-term illness or parenting, can also feel stressful. Even daily hassles like dealing with traffic can be a source of stress.â
From: âStressâ, Canadian Mental Health Association, 2018
Workplace stress then is the harmful physical and emotional responses that can happen when there is a conflict between job demands on the employee and the amount of control an employee has over meeting these demands. In general, the combination of high demands in a job and a low amount of control over the situation can lead to stress.
Stress in the workplace can have many origins or come from one single event. It can impact on both employees and employers alike. It is generally believed that some stress is okay but when stress occurs in amounts that you cannot handle, both mental and physical changes may occur.
The Physical Effects Of Stress
Stress has become one of Americas leading health concerns. In fact, recent research performed by the American Psychological Association shows that 51 percent of women and 43 percent of men in America experience negative side effects of chronic stress.
Left untreated, the side effects associated with chronic stress can become severe, leading to unhealthy coping habits, mental health disorders, or the development of other chronic conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes. In order to combat the very real physical effects of stress, experts recommend a number of lifestyle changes to reduce the symptoms of chronic stress for Americans.
Whats The Best Way To Think About Stress
Stress can actually help you focus better and can be positive. Having small amounts of stress can stimulate you to think. Being able to manage your stress is key. Frank Long 24. some stress is necessary in our lives when we want to stimulate creativity, or to promote learning. Christian J. Borg 25.
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What Happens To Your Body When You Have A Lot Of Stress
For example if youre stressed about writing a paper for school, and your stress causes you to ask your teacher for advice, and you finish the paper, then your stress has done its job. On the other hand, if youre experiencing a lot of stress day after day, your body may start sending you warning signs that somethings really wrong.
What Is The Biology Behind Stress
Stress is a biological response to things that happen to you. If you perceive a situation as stressful, the hypothalamus region of your brain begins the stress response. It starts by sending a message to the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland then sends a message to the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are found on top of your kidneys. These glands then release the stress hormone cortisol.
During the stress response, your breathing and heart rate increase and your blood pressure goes up. With the help of cortisol, your liver will break down molecules and release more sugar into the blood. An increase in blood sugar level provides more energy for the body. This is critical for the fight or flight response. The increase in energy helps you to escape from or deal with a stressful situation. It also helps the body to return to a normal state afterward.
Did you know?
During the stress response, some of your other body systems are less active. This includes your immune system and your digestive system. This is why you dont feel hungry during a stressful situation.
It is possible for people to adapt to moderate levels of stress over time. If you experience a stressful event over and over, the prefrontal cortex, or the command centre of the brain, recognizes the stressor and tells your hypothalamus that stress response is meant to be short-lived. Experiencing repeated or long-term stress means that cortisol levels in the body stay high.
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