With the 2012 holiday season waved off, never to be seen again, one would think that a lot of the day-to-day stress was ushered out with it. Not on your life! Stressful situations can crop up anywhere and sometimes can not be predicted. What can I do to better manage my stress level?
Not All Stress is Created the Same
Well, for starters, you can be aware of certain situations that may trigger stress. Surprisingly, there actually are two types of stress; stress that’s beneficial and motivating (good stress) and stress that causes anxiety and health problems (bad stress).
On the research side, researchers believe good stress can help fortify the immune system. For example, stress may improve how your heart functions and protect your body from infection, too. In one study, individuals who experienced moderate levels of stress before surgery were able to recover faster than individuals who had low or high levels.
Overall, stress is a burst of energy that dictates what to do, says experts. How so? Stress is a vital warning system, producing the fight-or-flight response. Basically, when the brain perceives some kind of stress, it starts flooding the body with chemicals such as epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. This in turn, produces a host of reactions like an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, as well. Even still, the senses suddenly have a laser-like focus, so you can avoid physically stressful situations. What can this entail? Consider jumping away from a moving car, just to be safe as a reaction to stress.
This article just would not be complete without first focusing on the harmful effects of stress. Emotional stress that lingers around for weeks or months at a time, can weaken the immune system and produce a bevy of health-related problems such as depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, stroke, fatigue and heart disease. Factually speaking, too much epinephrine can be harmful to your heart, because it has the propensity to change the arteries and how their cells are able to regenerate.
Know these negative stress signs:
• An inability to concentrate or complete tasks;
• Getting sick more often with colds;
• Becoming more angry or anxious than usual;
• Trouble falling sleeping or staying awake;
• Body aches;
• Other illnesses like autoimmune diseases flare up;
• Changes in mood and/or appetite.
A Little Goes a Long Way
Not sure if the negative stress scenario applies to you? How many times have you asked yourself, “Why did I say that?” after a conversation. Or, I wonder if my comment was taken out of context. Taking to heart what individuals think of you in every given situation can be stressful in itself. And, walking on eggshells with the attempt to avoid confrontation is no fun for anybody. The most important person in your life is you and you can benefit by finding ways to be more confident within yourself.
On to the next topic, which is work. According to PsychologyToday.com, having a job you dislike can also be a major source of stress. In fact, more than $300 billion dollars is funneled through companies each year because of individuals who experience a disconnect within the workplace.
And, it was reported that only a staggering 45 percent of Americans were satisfied with their jobs. While most can not afford to leave their jobs because of the current economic climate, many have weighted their options and have begun the process of changing careers, going to school to be retrained for something else or going into business for themselves.
Some food for thought: Food can be a cause of stress. Of note, one may consume a diet which consists only of carbohydrates. What’s the problem? Though high-carb diets may make you feel good at the moment and are flavorful, they tend to make you crash in the long run, which can produce stress. So, the next time you feel the urge to reach for that Hershey bar try fruit instead.
With the daily demands of life, it can sometimes be difficult to eat a well-balanced diet, however, it is not impossible. Start small by incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet and before you know it you will crave only the healthiest foods.
Taking Stock of Your Life
Many experience different sources of negative stress and what might affect one may not affect another. By being aware of what may be stressors in your life and avoiding and/or minimizing them, you’ll feel a little more at ease, mind, body and soul.