Effects of Stress

Effects of Stress

04/17/19 Laura Gibbons

Your shoulders are tense and your back hurts. You may be feeling irritable, angry, on edge, or unable to concentrate. These are all indications of stress. If left unattended, stress can actually make you sick. Between 75-90% of visits to the doctor are a result of stress.

What is Stress?
Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. It is a normal part of life, and the human body is designed to respond to it. Stress is actually helpful to keep us alert, meet deadlines, and avoid danger. Stress becomes harmful when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. Everyone responds to stress differently. The following are examples of various ways one may respond to stress:

Mental responses – trouble concentrating, feeling “foggy,” worrying
Physical responses – problems with digestion, headaches, chest pain, rapid heart rate
Emotional responses – anger, irritability, withdrawn, sad, overwhelmed
Behavioral responses – changes in appetite or sleep, nervous habits (nail biting, pacing), using substances, procrastinating/neglecting responsibilities

Types of Stress
Stress can come from outside factors – work or major life events – or may stem from within us. Reflect on the types of stress below that may be experiencing:
• Routine and ongoing pressures
• Stress due to a sudden change
• Negative thoughts, worries, unrealistic expectations
• Traumatic or threatening situations

Managing Stress
Although stress is a part of life, there are ways we can take charge and manage it so that it doesn’t derail us from our daily activities or from functioning at our best. Here are some tips:
• Recognize your stress signs and symptoms early so that you can take action
• Be realistic – re-evaluate your priorities and set healthy boundaries
• Be kind to yourself – turn down the inner critic and see the positives in yourself and in situations rather than just the negative
• Perform one task at a time to feel more productive – multi-tasking is a myth
• Exercise, eat right, and get adequate sleep to promote a healthier overall well-being
• Be more present and mindful – learn relaxation strategies to help you center yourself and reset
• Prepare yourself for stressful events – imagine yourself feeling calm and confident in a stressful situation
• Make time for social connections and interests – Facebook doesn’t count
• Laugh – it is the best medicine to reduce stress and increase endorphins – the feel good hormones
• See change as an opportunity, not a loss
• Avoid substances (drugs, tobacco, alcohol)
• Get a routine medical evaluation
• Seek support from a professional

If you are feeling stressed or want to be proactive and have a plan ready to manage it, contact the employee assistance program (EAP).

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