Stress is not bad in most cases. It can help you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best. But when you are constantly running in emergency mode, your mind and body pay the price.
If you frequently find yourself feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to take action to bring your nervous system back into balance.
You can protect yourself and improve how you think and feel by learning how to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and taking steps to reduce its harmful effects.
What Is Stress?
Stress, according to Psychologist Daisy Achan, is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger, it’s defenses kick into high gear in rapid, automatic process known as the fight –or-flight reaction or the stress response.
When we are faced with a challenge, part of our response is physical. The body activates resources to protect us by preparing us either to stay and fight or to get away as fast as possible.
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The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life by giving you extra strength to defend yourself or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid accident.
When stressed, the body produces larger quantities of the chemicals — cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenalin. These trigger an increased heart rate, heightened muscles preparedness, sweating and alertness. All these factors improve the ability to respond to hazardous or challenging situations.
Changes To The Body
Stress slows normal bodily functions, such as the digestive and immune system. All resources can then be concentrated on rapid breathing, blood flow, alertness, and muscle us.
The body changes in the following ways during stress:
- Blood pressure and pulse rate heightens
- Breathing is faster
- The digestive system slows down
- Immune activity decreases
- The muscles become tense
- A heightened state of alertness prevents sleep. . . . These can be good or bad depending on how you manage the stress.
Health problems caused or exacerbated by stress include;
- Depression and anxiety
- Reproductive issues
- Sleep problems
- Digestive problems
- Thinking and memory problems
Diagnosis, treatment and management
A doctor will normally diagnose stress by asking the patient about symptoms and life events.
It is complex and depends on many factors, biochemical measures, physiological techniques have been used, but these may not be objective or effective. The most direct way to diagnose stress and its effects on a person is through a comprehensive, stress-oriented, face to face interview.
Treatment includes self help stress management, and medication.
Here are a few steps to help you manage your feeling of being overwhelmed.
- Exercises: Studies have shown that exercises can benefit a person’s mental and physical state.
- Reducing intake of alcohol and drugs: These can only make you get stressed more so to reduce stress you should stop alcohol and drugs
- Breathing and Relaxation: Meditation, massage and yoga can help you manage stress. Breathing can slow down the system and help you relax.
- Talking: talk to friends work colleagues and your boss about your thoughts and worries will help you. You may be comforted to find that you are not the only one. You will get to know the solutions that you didn’t even know.
If the stress is affecting your daily life, you can seek for professional help. A doctor or specialist can help you through stress management and training.