While there are many ways to understand the types and ways stress impacts us, stress is our mind-body reaction to something 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 must do to succeed. Too much stress, though, can be unhelpful and may lead to anxious apprehension or avoidance.

2. Anything can be stressful. Stress can happen when there is a 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 work, life, or play pressures. Other stressors may include childhood trauma, significant accidents, war, assault, or natural disasters. Stress can occur whether something is lovely 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, and exasperate health issues. Stress can impact our immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems. Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and more are affected 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 and 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, and stretch those muscles. Deep breathing also can 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, 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 healthcare provider about your stress. Effective treatment is available and can reduce the impact of stress, not only for yourself but also for your relationships.