National Stress Awareness Day
National Stress Awareness Day Many people suffer from stress every single day and many causes of stress are directly related to the events going on around. However, how you perceive and react to stressful events is key in being able to better manage your stress.
Causes of Stress
Some of the most common causes of stress are things that people deal with every day, like working long hours, driving in traffic, a stressful home environment or financial obligations. Other more extreme stressors include the loss of a job, divorce or the death of a loved one. Stressors like these often lead to chronic stress and can physically affect your body from the inside out.
Effects of Stress
According to the American Psychological Association (APA, “when the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress — the body's way of guarding against injury and pain.” Chronic stress, or experiencing a lot of stress over a long period of time, can result in long-term damage on the body by continuing to trigger physical reactions such as muscle tension.
When you are stressed out, your heart rate goes up, your stress hormones increase and your blood pressure skyrockets. Chronic stress can contribute to long term heart problems and blood vessel damage as well as increase your risk for hypertension, panic attacks, heart attacks, and even stroke.
Stress can also affect you differently based on your gender. For many men who suffer from chronic stress, it can affect testosterone production, sperm production and maturation, and even cause erectile dysfunction or impotence. Men can also face damage to their immune system leaving the body to become more vulnerable to infection.
Research from the APA shows that the risk for heart disease associated with stress appears to differ for women, depending on whether the woman is pre or postmenopausal. Higher levels of estrogen in premenopausal women results in blood vessels responding better during stress, thereby helping their bodies to better handle stress and protecting them against heart disease. However women who are postmenopausal lose this level of hormonal protection, therefore putting them at greater risk for the effects of stress on heart disease.
Ways to cope with and manage your stress
While there are many things that happen in life that can lead to stress, there are just as many techniques you can incorporate to reduce and prevent stress and chronic stress-related ailments. Relaxation is key in techniques that have been shown to effectively reduce muscle tension, and decrease the incidence of certain stress-related disorders, like migraines or insomnia.
Finding ways to relax fully relies on you and what you enjoy. For many people, just getting some fresh air can be a helpful tool to relieve stress. Others find that if their life is more structured they feel less stressed and finding daily rituals that help them chill out and relax.
Diffuse essential oils
Take a bath before bed, throw in some bath bombs!
Exercise before or after school or work
Do a craft
Take a walk around your neighborhood
Meditate for 20 minutes
Get your nails done (don't forget the argan oil!)
Schedule a massage
Talk to a therapist
Call your best friend
Watch your favorite movie
Whatever is going on in your life, there are ways to manage and cope with the stress to make sure you remain healthy emotionally and physically.