Dec 16

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5 Ways Stress Affects You and What You Can Do About it

5 Ways Stress Affects You and What You Can Do About it

5 Ways Stress Affects You and What You Can Do About it

Do you suffer from stress? If you do, you’re not alone. Nearly all people feel stressed at some point in their life. Some people experience stress daily! Not all stress is bad, either. If you are in danger, your response to stress releases hormones and chemicals into your system that help you flee from danger or have unusual strength to escape from being trapped by something you normally couldn’t lift or move.

The problem is, those same chemicals and hormones that help you when you are in danger can be harmful to your body over long periods of time. Often we feel the same danger and fear over smaller stresses, like a deadline, a test, heavy traffic, or children arguing. Our bodies don’t differentiate between these less dangerous stresses and over time we can develop diseases or physical ailments from stress.
Let’s look at some ways this stress can affect your body.

1. Anxiety– Anxiety is the feeling of foreboding, fear, distress that things are going wrong. We all feel anxious about certain things, it’s even normal to feel anxious before a test, public speaking, hosting a big event or a job evaluation. If you have anxiety due to unrelieved stress, you may begin to feel anxious all of the time, even when there is no good reason.

2. Depression– Depression is defined as “a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason.” (Dictionary.com)
It can happen when our bodies have been under stress for a prolonged amount of time. We just begin to shut down emotionally, and can slip into a deep depression.

3. Digestive problems– Stress causes more acid production in the stomach. If you have increased acid production, over time you can begin to experience acid indigestion; a burning feeling in your stomach and esophagus. If it continues, you can even develop stomach ulcers. Stress can also cause some people to develop intestinal cramping and diarrhea.

4. Heart disease– The long term effects of high levels of cortisol (the “stress hormone”) and other stress related chemicals can cause high blood pressure and heart disease. Researchers don’t know exactly why stress causes heart disease, they are still looking for answers. Part of it may even be that being under stress causes some people to overeat, especially higher fat foods which contribute to high cholesterol levels, which can cause heart disease. Stress may also contribute to people drinking too much alcohol, which can also affect heart health.

5. Sleep problems– When you are under a lot of stress, you tend to worry more. When you are filled with worry, it is often hard to fall asleep. Have you ever had a day where you were so busy and exhausted, but when it was time for bed you lay awake worrying about things? Many people who are under a lot of stress find it hard to get a good night’s sleep.

Of course, this list is not complete, but these are the more common stress-related symptoms. There are also weight gain, memory and concentration problems and more. Now let’s look at some ways to manage our stress.

Eating a healthy diet and getting a good night’s rest each night is essential. Even if you do not have a weight problem, it is important to eat a healthy well-balanced diet. You won’t believe how much better you feel when you give your body wholesome foods and stop eating junk food!

Get moving, too! Starting an exercise program, even if it is just briskly walking around your neighborhood, helps release endorphins or “feel good” hormones. People who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer from depression and insomnia or other stress-related issues. Other ways you can beat stress are by making time to nurture good relationships with family and friends, taking time to pray or meditate, and by seeking professional counseling when you need it.

What ways do you use to combat stress in your life? Let me know in the comments what your best tip is for reducing or treating stress in your life.

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