Coming to terms with stress
Stress affects the normal condition of the mind. It also affects the nervous system leading to internal disorders like high blood pressure, headaches, migraines, loss of appetite, phobias, narcolepsy, and many more. Deep depression is a severe cause of stress which may lead a person to drugs. Stress is when you are worried about getting laid off your job, or worried about having enough money to pay your bills, or worried about your mother when the doctor says she may need an operation. In fact, to most of us, stress is synonymous with worry. If it is something that makes you worry, then it is stress.
Acute stress is a reaction to immediate threat. This threat may possibly be a situation that is experienced even subconsciously or falsely as dangerous. Short term stress includes traffic, noise pollution, isolation, infection and hunger. On the other hand chronic stress has a greater effect on the human mind. Psychological pressures such as relationship problems, loneliness, or financial worries may lead to long term or chronic stress
Affect of Stress on Our Body
Stress Affects when the brain is affected by stress, a part of the brain called the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) system releases certain neurotransmitters called catecholamines. The HPA system also triggers the production of the primary stress hormone.
Heart and lungs
Due to stress the heart rate and the blood pressure increases. This lead to rapid breathing and the lungs take in more oxygen. The blood flow may increase from 300 % to 400% priming the muscle, lungs and the brain for added demands.
Stress causes dryness of the mouth which causes difficulty in talking.
Stress causes metabolic disorders by closing down the digestive activity which leads to loss of appetite.
Stress deteriorates a healthy body. Relationships are always threatened and there is always a danger that chronic stress may develop into a serious problem. Suicide, accidents and alcoholism are usually followed by stress.
Factors that Trigger Stress
The vast hormonal changes of puberty can cause severe stress. A person’s body actually changes shape, sexual organs begin to function and new hormones are released in large quantities.
Once a woman passes puberty, her body is designed to function best in the presence of female hormones. For women past puberty, a lack of female hormones is a major stress on the body. Once a month, just prior to menstruation, a woman’s hormone levels drop sharply. In many women, the stress of sharply falling hormones is enough to create a temporary overstress. This temporary overstress is popularly known as Pre–Menstrual Syndrome (PMS).
Following a pregnancy, hormone levels change dramatically. After a normal childbirth, or a miscarriage, some women may be thrown into overstress by loss of the hormones of pregnancy.
There is another time in a woman’s life when hormone levels decline. This is the menopause. The decline in hormones during menopause is slow and steady. Nevertheless, this menopausal decline causes enough stress on the body to produce overstress in many women.
The following coping strategies can really start to help you reduce the effects of any negative stress in your life. Be aware of your own warning signs. These could be a sudden feeling of anxiety, extreme tiredness, feeling very tearful, catching every cough and cold, feeling run down. At times of negative stress we often fall into the trap of not eating properly, smoking more or turning to alcohol as a supposedly helpful crutch.
Here are some positive methods to handle stress
Try and eat a balanced diet. Eat complex carbohydrates (such as whole meal, bread, jacket potatoes etc) rather than refined (that packet of sugary biscuits!). This can really help with those mood swings. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and keep sugar and salt intake to a minimum. This can help to support your immune system in its fight against colds, flu and other ailments you so often get when run down. Drink plenty of water, it will help you rehydrate your body, and only drink alcohol in moderation. Try and keep caffeine consumption to the minimum.
Try not to turn to nicotine or any other self prescribed drugs.
Do not feel guilty about including a period of relaxation every day. We all need to turn off from time to time. Do something you enjoy which fits into your life. This could, for example, be reading, listening to music, doing yoga or meditating, enjoying a warm bath with perhaps some aromatherapy oils added to it. It does not have to take long–or be considered a luxury or time wasting. It is a vital part of life. Make sure exercise is a part of life. Do exercise which is suitable for you. Ask the doctor if you have doubts.
Do you often find yourself saying “Yes” when in fact you mean “No”? Are you always late for things? Do you get frustrated knowing you could have done a better job if you had organized your time better? Learn how to be more assertive and manage your time properly. Many of us waste so much time–often making excuses for things we have not done! There are some excellent courses available as well as books on both these subjects.
Consider attending a stress management training course. You do not have to be stressed to attend one of these. It is far better to know fully what to do prior to experiencing negative stress than during! There are times when we all need the help and confidential support of other people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. It can be so helpful. If you wish to be put in contact with a local stress councilor / therapist we can put you in.