Stress is a problem for everyone at various points in your life. It can be related to family, relationships, work or money but it all has the same negative effect on your health and wellbeing.
Some stress is important as it readies your body to react quickly. For example, if suddenly confronted with a sabre-toothed tiger in the street, your heart beats faster and your blood vessels widen to pump more blood faster to your muscles so they can function better. You breathe faster to get more oxygen in your body to feed these muscle cells. Yours pupils dilate and your sense of hearing sharpen all to allow for a better reaction to the tiger. This is sometimes called the fight-or-flight response.
While some parts of your body get more blood and energy, like the muscles, heart, and lungs, others that aren’t immediately needed for fighting or running away lose most of their blood supply temporarily. The digestive system slows down and sexual response is placed on hold as these are not likely to be important for your immediate survival again that prehistoric tiger.
These reactions are great for short-term stress and certainly helped to save the life of our ancestors. However, they are designed to be for a short time only. The extra work on the heart and lungs is exhausting for the body and has a negative impact on your health.
Now imagine you’re stressed for several weeks or months at a time. Your heart is working overtime, you’re not digesting your food properly, your muscles are tense, and you have sexual impotence. It’s not surprising that stress over a lengthy period of time will have long term effects on your body. However, because these may seem to be minor and always present, you may not even notice them to be signs of stress until something catastrophic has occurs, like a heart attack.
Often, the cruellest part of stress is that it tends to be a vicious cycle. For example, you become stressed about your workload. You then get nauseous and sweat more often. The stomach troubles become worrisome and you worry more about what may be causing the pain and the excessive sweating is embarrassing and you get anxious about other people noticing. This brings on additional panic which maybe make the current problems worse and bring on new ones to fret over!
But worry not! Fortunately, there are many ways to control anxiety levels and manage your health. Meditation has been proven to be very effective. By focusing on your breathing you are slowing it, which causes your heart to beat slower, controlling your heart rate and your blood pressure. It can relax your muscles and allow your mind to drift and not focus on what has been the cause of your stress. Massage can help to release the tension in your muscles and exercise will create an outlet for your pent up energy and can allow you some time to let your mind wander while sweating.
A healthy diet will go a long way in helping you to decompress and de-stress. If your digestion system is not working as well as it should be due to stress, then it’s important that you’re getting a well balanced diet. While a stomach full of junk may seem like a good idea at the time, the lack of nutrients and vitamins will leave you tired and more prone to anxiety. Food high in fibre and vitamins, such as salads and vegetable will help to combat you signs of stress.