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Stress Weighing You Down?

Stress is loosely defined as the brain’s response to any demand. There are many things that can trigger this response, one of them being change. Whether it’s big or small, short or long term, or positive or negative, change can have a dramatic effect on someone’s wellbeing. How people deal with these changes, however, varies from person to person, making it difficult to define. Imagine a roller coaster, some people have their hands in the air screaming their lungs out while others may be silently holding onto the safety bar for dear life. While the stressor remains the same (the roller coaster), people have various reactions. This is because it is our individual perceptions of what’s happening around us creates the stress.

Stress on the body

Stress is not always a negativism. Consider the fight or flight response – all animals use a stress response that quickens the pulse, tenses the muscles, and pushes more oxygen to the brain in order to survive potential life threatening situations. However, these situations also call for the digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems to stop functioning properly until the cause of stress is gone. It is for this reason that continuous stress, and not a short burst, is detrimental to our bodies.

Effect of stress on health

The bodies reaction to stress differs from person to person. Some people may experience migraine headaches, while others feel stomach pains. Over time this could lead to more severe consequences such as increased susceptibility to the flu or common cold and less effective responses to vaccinations.

How to cope

If you feel overwhelmed, have difficulty sleeping, use drugs or alcohol to cope, are constantly fatigued, or have suicidal thoughts, do something. Know there are many people in your life that will provide support, including friends, family and even qualified mental health professionals. Not one to talk? Another great release is to write your feelings and thoughts down in a journal, as it helps in the process of elevating and understanding your stressors. You can also find distraction and reduce stress hormones in your body by being active or listening to music.

If you constantly react to stress, it may be time to be more proactive about it. You can decrease the chance of stressful situations by managing your schedule. Decide what must get done, what can be put to the side, and when to say no to tasks that would overload your schedule.

Sources: National Institute of Mental Health and Helpguide.org

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