Stress Effects on Your Body
Stress is a normal feeling of physical or emotional tension that can develop from any event or thought that has made you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Although stress can be healthy and natural, it’s when the stress continues after the stress-causing factor is gone transforms into anxiety. This then becomes a highly dangerous feeling of worry, nervousness, and unease. Stress can be positive wen it occurs in short bursts because those short bursts of stress can help you grow both mentally and physically. Long term stress can have serious physical stress symptoms.
Physical Stress Symptoms in Men and Women
Women have a tendency to experience stress that is in the form of physical stress symptoms and they are more likely to report stress-related health problems, like depression, hypertension, obesity, and anxiety. However, men don’t escape stress – they have just as much, if not more, as women. Men just have a way of dealing with it differently, because of hormones – cortisol, oxytocin and epinephrine.
When a woman is dealing with stress, cortisol and epinephrine rush through the bloodstream and this is when oxytocin comes into play – it is released from the brain and is responsible for countering the production of epinephrine and cortisol, promoting relaxing emotions.
Men also produce the hormone oxytocin during stressful situation, but they secrete it in a smaller amount, which leaves them holding the short end of the stick when it comes to stress.
Different Types of Stress
Stress in humans falls into two categories:
Acute stress is the most common type of stress. We experience it often in our day-to-day activities. Acute stress is short-term stress that helps us manage a dangerous situation. Because of its short nature, (it goes away fast), it is healthy. Acute stress occurs when you do something new and exciting. You will experience acute stress when you ski down a steep slope, slam on the breaks, or go on your first date.
When acute stress lasts long, i.e. when acute stress prolongs its lifecycle, it turns into chronic stress. Chronic stress is deceptive in nature. You can become so used to its presence that you don’t see it as a problem. Chronic stress can emanate from many situations such as marriage problems, money problems, or trouble at work. If not managed, chronic stress can cause serious health problems. Now that we have a better understanding of stress, its classifications, and what triggers different types of stress, you’re probably curious to learn how the stress system within your body works. Let’s look at that now.
How Your Body Works
Your body reacts to acute stress by releasing the hormones adrenalin and cortisol. Technically, after receiving a stressor, the hypothalamus part of your brain sends a chemical message to the pituitary gland.
The message is sent out of the brain through your blood to the adrenal glands to secrete cortisol. These stress hormones have to bind to receptors to make your muscles tense, your brain more alert, and increases your pulse: a natural, protective, and bodily response.
By interpreting the stressor, your body gets the stress system started on releasing the required amount of cortisol and only stops releasing cortisol when the stressor dissipates. When you experience chronic stress, due to continued release of cortisol, your body stays alert post danger. Because of its commonality in our daily life, acute stress, which if allowed to simmer turns into chronic stress, has many triggers. Stress can also affect your muscle gains. Read more by going to "Stress Effects on Your Body".
Techniques to Help You Manage Stress
There’s always a way to get over an obstacle in your life, correct? Just as you can get over those obstacles and dodge the rocks that are tossed your way, you can manage, and eliminate stress. In this section, we’re going to introduce you to some techniques that will help you manage stress.
Here’s some common thought patterns known to instigate stress:
Catastrophizing is when you expect the worst out of any situation and blow small problems out of proportion.
What If: These types of thoughts birth an internal conversation where you’re always wondering “what if” about the things you fear. ‘What if I am sick?’, ‘What if I’m late?
Mental Filter: Mental filler thoughts keep you focused on the negative thoughts while filtering out all positive thoughts. You don’t see what went on right. Rather, you focus on what went wrong.
Must Or Should Statements: These types of negative thoughts birth from an internal strict list of things you should, or should not do. When you fail to adhere to this list, you feel anxious or stressed.
Labeling: This is when you label yourself based on your mistakes or perceived shortcomings. You see yourself as an idiot or a loser.
Emotional Reasoning: believing that the way you feel reflects reality
Jumping To Conclusions: With these types of thoughts, you act like a mind reader or fortuneteller by making negative interpretations about situations without actual evidence.
Tips to Help You Manage Stress and Avoid Physical Stress Symptoms
Tip Number One: Everyone Has Stress
One of the best ways to avoid anxiety would be to eliminate all stress triggers also known as unnecessary stress. You can do this by accepting the fact that stress is unavoidable, it is a normal part of life and everyone has it – men and women, the young and the old. You will never be able to get rid of stress completely, but you can deal with it in a health and fashionable way.
Tip Number Two: Avoid Stress
If there is a particular activity or person that always seems to stress you out, then simply eliminate them from your life.
Tip Number Three: Stop Comparing Yourself with Others
So many times, people cause their own stress by comparing themselves with others. Stop doing this. Live your own life and be happy with what you have.
Tip Number Four: Avoid Ruminating Over Past Events
What happened in the past is in the past. Yes, you can learn from those past mistakes, but there’s no reason to ruminate over them …this will only lead to stress.
Tip Number Five: Stay Organized
Personally, we have found that by staying organized, a large portion of our stress flies out the window. You can use a planner to keep yourself organized. By being organized and getting your priorities straight, you will be able to break down your responsibilities into pieces you are able to manage.
Tip Number Six: Get Enough Sleep
It is important that you get enough sleep. Yes, there are 10000 things on your mind and you’re going to feel stressed out. During these times, so many people sacrifice their stress and that is a big mistake. You see, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body fails at producing toxins that build up to eliminate stress.
Natural Ways to Relieve Stress
Chamomile: Chamomile is an amazing herb that is good at multi-tasking. Having a nice cup of chamomile tea can help you calm down in those jittery moments. Chamomile contains Matricaria recutita, a compound that binds to the brain receptors to help you calm down in a similar manner Valium. It also acts as a natural sedative that relieves stress. Chamomile also helps relieve symptoms of GAD and other anxiety disorders. Drinking a cup of chamomile any time after dinner keeps cortisol levels constant and helps you get a good night sleep. You can drink chamomile tea any time you feel stressed. Chamomile also helps with digestion besides having anti-inflammatory effects.
Kava: You can chew on the roots of this plant, or grind them to make drinks and teas. The roots contain an active chemical ingredient known as kava lactones – these affect the chemistry of you brain in similar ways as prescribed anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication.
Yes, stress is a normal part of life, and you have got to learn to accept certain things that are tossed your way. Just remember, what happens today probably isn’t going to matter in a couple of years. Sure, it may seem like a big deal right now, but in all actuality, it’s not that big of a deal. It is important that you learn to reduce stress so that you can stay healthy and live longer. Do you want to learn more ways to combat stress and avoid the physical stress symptoms? Learn more in our other article "Stress: The Real Enemy of Your Gains".
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1. Stress Management - Ways To Avoid Stress, WebMD - http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-management-avoiding-unnecessary-stress#2
2. Stress: The Different Kinds Of Stress – American Psychological Association - http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-kinds.aspx
3. Four Ways To Deal With Stress – American Heart Association - http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/StressManagement/FourWaystoDealWithStress/Four-Ways-to-Deal-with-Stress_UCM_307996_Article.jsp#.WJJhTbYrIUR