No one is completely immune to stress. Stress can effect the very young to the very old, and everyone in between. Studies have shown that while short bursts of stress can actually improve your cognitive ability and help in your body’s immune response, excessive stress can wear your body’s defenses down, and cause you to “burn out.” Learning to deal with stress, and manage your stress can be a key to a life of good health and wellness.
Stress can affect your body in a number of ways, including headaches, upset stomach, depression, skin conditions like psoriasis, sleep disturbances, anger, and inability to concentrate. Perpetual “out of control” stress can hinder your body’s ability to fight infections such as colds and flu. It can also quicken the progression of a more serious disease you may have, such as hypertension, cancer, or heart disease, and can impede our body’s ability to repair itself effectively. By noticing these symptoms and keeping track of frequency, you can assess if you are experiencing normal stress or the excessive, “out of control” stress.
Stress can be caused by both internal and external factors. The external factors like your job, your relationships, and your home, all can contribute to your stress level on any day. Depending on your internal state, you can deal with stressors on some days, and not as well on others.
Talk with your doctor to learn positive ways to deal with stress, and ensure stress doesn’t come as a detriment to your overall health. Some things you may talk about with your doctor might include:
- What are some ways to combat stressors in my life?
- Getting exercise
- Practicing relaxation/meditation
- Utilizing time management
- Developing organization skills
- Cultivating and using your support systems
- Who gets stress? No one is immune to stress, although certain groups have been shown to experience more stress. For example, if you care for a sick loved one, or live with someone who is particularly stressed it can cause you to experience stress. If you don’t get enough sleep or don’t eat healthy food, you could be more susceptible to stress. Depending on where you are in life too (child, teen, adult, etc.), and your family history can determine how much stress you experience.
- How can I assess my stress level? Things like your attitude, diet, the amount of physical activity you get, your support system, and your methods of relaxing all contribute to your personal stress level.
www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus Stress Management
www.mayoclinic.com Stress Management, and Stress Assessment: Rate your stress level
Christine Jeffries is a writer/editor for work and at heart, and lives in a home of testosterone with her husband and two sons. Christine is interested in women’s health and promoting strong women.