1. Everyone experiences stress. Stress is a natural part of life. Everyone experiences stress from time to time. Stress is defined as any event or thought, real or imagined, that makes you feel nervous, frustrated, or upset. Stress can happen too often and become chronic or episodic, which occurs occasionally or for a short time.
While there are many ways to understand the types and ways stress impact us, stress is simply our mind-body reaction to something we find challenging. This means some stress can be helpful! If you are worried about making a great first impression on that first date, stress can help you focus on what you need to do to be successful. Too much stress, though, and it can be unhelpful and may lead to anxious apprehension or avoidance.
2. Anything can be stressful. Stress can happen when there is both positive or negative change in our lives such as a change in a job/career, relational breakups, illness, graduating from school, or winning the lottery. Stress can appear as routine or daily pressures at work, life, or play. Other stressors may include childhood trauma, major accidents, war, assault, or natural disasters. Stress can occur whether something is wonderful or not so wonderful and it can be helpful to recognize the impact of stress.
3. Long term stress can hurt your health. If you are managing chronic stress it can be a lot more challenging than the occasional acute stress. Research has shown that stress creates an allostatic overload in our body that can bring out, create, exasperate health issues. Stress can impact our immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems. Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and more are impacted by chronic stress. Some people may experience stomach upset, headaches, sleep disturbances, restlessness or irritability.
4. There are many ways to manage stress! There are many ways to help combat the effects of stress. Mindfulness techniques help us to become more aware of how stress impacts our mind and body. By noticing what creates stress, and how we respond to it, we can turn off some of the stinking thinking that occurs as well as tap into a more relaxed body. Once we have more awareness of the stress in our lives, we can take steps to offset its impact through relaxation training. You may have heard that exercise boosts your mood, well it also relaxes that muscular tension associated with stress. So move, dance, stretch those muscles. Deep breathing also has the ability to release some tension. Other relaxation techniques include muscle relaxation, meditation, creative visualization, biofeedback, and more. Scheduling regular times, daily with these activities can offset stress.
5. Too much stress, get help. Managing stress is not as easy as exercising for 30 minutes a day. Chronic stress can be a complex issue that requires exploring the many variables impacting your stress. Talk to your friends, family, and/or health care provider about your stress. Effective treatment is available and can reduce the impact on stress, not only for yourself, but for your relationships.