Stress

Stress is how you and your body respond to the demands placed on it by your life. Stress is a normal way that our body reacts to sudden changes in our life; but unchecked, stress can cause health problems.

What is stress?

Stress is part of our everyday lives. Everyone lives in a hectic world where we have social, family, work and financial commitments that we have to meet. Stress is how you and your body respond to the demands placed on it by your life.
 
Scientists believe that stress is a normal way that our body reacts to sudden changes in our life. They believe stress comes from the “fight or flight” reaction to danger. This happens when you are confronted with a major issue and you will either decide to fight or will leave the situation as fast as possible. This reaction causes our blood pressure to go up, our heart to race and our muscles to tense up. After the danger passes, our body will start to relax and our blood pressure and heart rate will return to normal and our muscles will relax.
 

Is all stress bad?

Not all stress is bad and we all feel stress differently. Good stress is the stress that has a positive effect and helps us deal with problems. It helps us confront and fix daily problems and to meet the challenges placed on us. Some would describe this type of stress as that little extra push to get the job done or go the extra mile. With good stress, as soon as the cause of it is done, we feel good and return to normal.
 
Bad stress is very different. Bad stress happens when the situation becomes overwhelming for the person. The person with bad stress feels out of control. Many will have trouble sleeping at night, will feel nauseated and will feel worried most of the day. This type of negative stress can have a major effect on your health, your work and your relationship with your friends and family.

 
 

Reactions to stress

We all deal with stress differently. Even the same person may manage stress at work much better than stress at home.
 
Let’s look at a common example of stress, such as two people that have to give a big presentation at work. One might like the stress of knowing the presentation is coming up. She likes the pressure because it helps her focus, get the work done and she knows this is going to be an opportunity to shine at work. Another person in the same situation may find the stress of the presentation overwhelming, and that he can’t get ready because he is so worried about the presentation. He can’t sleep and is terrified he is going to screw up at work in front of a whole group of people.
 
You can see from this example that two people, in the same situation, have two very different reactions to stress.

 
 

Stress management

As was mentioned, people handle stress very differently. Some people are just able to let go of a stressful situation and relax, while others dwell on it and can’t seem to forget about it. Some people become overwhelmed and just assume the stress will never go away. This kind of stress that never leaves makes you and your life miserable. It can increase your risk of certain diseases and if not managed, can have a massive impact on your quality of life.
For these people the best way to deal with stress is to first find what causes your stress and then look for a plan to help lower the stress in your life.

 
 

What are common stressors?

The name given to things that cause stress is “stressors”. Stressors can be caused by major events in your life such as buying a new house, moving, changing a job, separating or having a major health issue. Stressors can also be day-to-day things like being stuck in traffic, being late for a meeting, missing your child’s activity because of work, arguments with your family and other parts of our hectic lives.
 
Stressors happen daily and it is the way that you handle them that decides whether the stress is going to be a manageable part of everyday life or it will become overwhelming, putting you at higher risk of a health problem.

 
 

How does our body first respond to stress?

The first response that our body has when exposed to a stressful situation is to release a chemical called adrenaline. Adrenaline excites our body and prepares it for the stressful situation.
In this stage you may have:
  • An increase in your heart rate
  • An increase in your blood pressure
  • Tight muscles
  • “Butterflies” in your stomach
  • Shaking hands or tremor
  • A lightheaded feeling
  • Fast breathing
  • Cold sweat
  • Tension throughout your body
  • A headache

 
 

Responding to stress: the second stage

For most people after the stressful situation is done, everything goes back to normal. In other people, it does not let up and they feel like they are going into overdrive. At this second stage the body will start using up its backup energy supply.
In this second stage the person may start to feel:
  • Pushed to go further and feel pressured
  • Out of control
  • Tensed and anxious
  • Angry, irritated and impatient
  • Exhausted and overtired
  • That they can’t concentrate, or think clearly and start to become more forgetful
  • Urge to do unhealthy things like smoking more, eating more or drinking too much alcohol

 
 

Continued stress can lead to problems

If the stress doesn’t let up, the body starts to break down and we start to see major health problems.
 
At this point the person may start:
  • To have insomnia
  • To not think clearly and not make good choices
  • To see changes in their personality
  • To become at higher risk of chronic health problems

 
 

What types of diseases are caused by stress?

Chronic stress has a major impact on our body and can cause poor health. People with high levels of stress tend to undertake unhealthy behaviours to cope with the stress like drinking too much alcohol, smoking, abusing drugs or eating poorly.
 
Chronic stress weakens your immune system. This makes people with stress at higher risk of getting sick from viruses and other infections.
 
Stress can have an impact on your risk of heart disease or stroke. With high stress your body feels like it is in overdrive. After a while this starts to cause stress on your heart. People with high stress may also have the following risk factors for a heart attack or stroke:
  • High blood pressure
  • High levels of “bad” cholesterol
  • Being overweight and obese
  • Diabetes
  • Have inflammation in the body that increases your risk of a clot forming
 
Chronic stress increases the chance of a person getting an anxiety problem. Some people with chronic stress will also develop depression.

 
 

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This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.
 
 
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