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What happens when you are stressed?

May 27th, 2009 by admin Leave a reply »

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Stress is what you feel when you have to han­dle more than you are used to. When you are stressed, your body responds as though you are in dan­ger. It makes hor­mones that speed up your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you a burst of energy. This is called the fight-or-flight stress response.

Some stress is nor­mal and even use­ful. Stress can help if you need to work hard or react quickly. For exam­ple, it can help you win a race or fin­ish an impor­tant job on time.

But if stress hap­pens too often or lasts too long, it can have bad effects. It can be linked to headaches, an upset stom­ach, back pain, and trou­ble sleep­ing. It can weaken your immune sys­tem, mak­ing it harder to fight off dis­ease. If you already have a health prob­lem, stress may make it worse. It can make you moody, tense, or depressed. Your rela­tion­ships may suf­fer, and you may not do well at work or school.

What can you do about stress?

The good news is that you can learn ways to man­age stress. To get stress under control:

  • Find out what is caus­ing stress in your life.
  • Look for ways to reduce the amount of stress in your life.
  • Learn healthy ways to relieve stress or reduce its harm­ful effects.

How do you mea­sure your stress level?

Some­times it is clear where stress is com­ing from. You can count on stress dur­ing a major life change such as the death of a loved one, get­ting mar­ried, or hav­ing a baby. But other times it may not be so clear why you feel stressed.

It’s impor­tant to fig­ure out what causes stress for you. Every­one feels and responds to stress dif­fer­ently. Keep­ing a stress jour­nal may help. Get a note­book, and write down when some­thing makes you feel stressed. Then write how you reacted and what you did to deal with the stress. Keep­ing a stress jour­nal can help you find out what is caus­ing your stress and how much stress you feel. Then you can take steps to reduce the stress or han­dle it better.

How can you avoid stress?

Stress is a fact of life for most peo­ple. You may not be able to get rid of stress, but you can look for ways to lower it.

You might try some of these ideas:

  • Learn bet­ter ways to man­age your time. You may get more done with less stress if you make a sched­ule. Think about which things are most impor­tant, and do those first.
  • Find bet­ter ways to cope. Look at how you have been deal­ing with stress. Be hon­est about what works and what does not. Think about other things that might work better.
  • Take good care of your­self. Get plenty of rest. Eat well. Don’t smoke. Limit how much alco­hol you drink.
  • Try out new ways of think­ing. When you find your­self start­ing to worry, try to stop the thoughts. Work on let­ting go of things you can­not change. Learn to say “no.”
  • Speak up. Not being able to talk about your needs and con­cerns cre­ates stress and can make neg­a­tive feel­ings worse. Assertive com­mu­ni­ca­tion can help you express how you feel in a thought­ful, tact­ful way.
  • Ask for help. Peo­ple who have a strong net­work of fam­ily and friends man­age stress better.

Some­times stress is just too much to han­dle alone. Talk­ing to a friend or fam­ily mem­ber may help, but you may also want to see a counselor.

How can you relieve stress?

You will feel bet­ter if you can find ways to get stress out of your sys­tem. The best ways to relieve stress are dif­fer­ent for each per­son. Try some of these ideas to see which ones work for you:

  • Exer­cise. Reg­u­lar exer­cise is one of the best ways to man­age stress. Walk­ing is a great way to get started.
  • Write. It can help to write about the things that are both­er­ing you.
  • Let your feel­ings out. Talk, laugh, cry, and express anger when you need to with some­one you trust.
  • Do some­thing you enjoy. A hobby can help you relax. Vol­un­teer work or work that helps oth­ers can be a great stress reliever.
  • Learn ways to relax your body. This can include breath­ing exer­cises, mus­cle relax­ation exer­cises, mas­sage, aro­mather­apy, yoga, or relax­ing exer­cises like tai chi and qi gong.
  • Focus on the present. Try med­i­ta­tion, imagery exer­cises, or self-hypnosis. Lis­ten to relax­ing music. Try to look for the humor in life. Laugh­ter really can be the best medicine.
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