Stress and Your Body

Everyone knows that stress can affect a person’s mood, but did you know it can affect you mentally and physically? 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.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.{ }

Stress can be triggered by a number of events, positive or negative, real or perceived. Changes that trigger stress can be mild, such as riding a rollercoaster, competing for a promotion at work, or watching a scary movie. Major changes can include an unexpected loss, a wedding or divorce, or exposure to physical harm. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates that there are three main types of stress, each carrying varying risks to your physical or mental health.

Routine stress comes with the pressures of day-to-day life, such as work and family obligations

Stress brought about by an unexpected change outside of your normal routines, such as divorce, financial issues, or a sudden change in employment status.

Traumatic stress, which occurs in a large, life-altering event, like a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or assault, where one would question whether or not they are in danger. { }

Not all stress is bad though. Stress triggered by a traumatic event in progress causes a person to react in a way to preserve themselves and the ones they love, in other words, the fight or flight response. Other positive stressors can motivate a person to strive for a hard to reach goal.

To minimize stress and the physical effects it has on one’s body, there are ways to cope with stress. The key to coping with stress is making sure there are enough periods of relaxation to balance the effects of stress. When we’re faced with one stress period after another, with no time to relax in between, it can affect our physical and emotional well-being.

Stress Reduction Techniques

Try some of these stress reduction techniques:

Begin deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation. Deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation counter the production of adrenaline.

Practice grounding and self-soothing skills for overwhelming emotions.

Develop an action plan for coping with the effects of stress. What are stresses you can do something about? Set a specific goal to address this source of stress.

Exercise gives you a mild jolt of adrenaline but then allows you to work off the extra energy it produces. Your body becomes more adept at processing the adrenaline that’s in your bloodstream during times of stress.

Talk things out with a friend or therapist. { }

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