Stress Prevention and Cure
STRESS AND YOUR BODY
Your body reacts to stress by releasing hormones. These hormones make your brain more alert, cause your muscles to tense, and increase your pulse. In the short term, these reactions are good because they can help you handle the situation causing stress. This is your body’s way of protecting itself.
When you have chronic stress, your body stays alert, even though there is no danger. Over time, this puts you at risk for health problems, including:
* High blood pressure
* Heart disease
* Depression or anxiety
* Skin problems, such as acne or eczema
* Menstrual problems
If you already have a health condition, chronic stress can make it worse.
SIGNS OF TOO MUCH STRESS
Stress can cause many types of physical and emotional symptoms. Sometimes, you may not realize these symptoms are caused by stress. Here are some signs that stress may be affecting you:
* Diarrhea or constipation
* Frequent aches and pains
* Lack of energy or focus
* Sexual problems
* Stiff jaw or neck
* Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
* Upset stomach
* Use of alcohol or drugs to relax
* Weight loss or gain
Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Not all stress is bad. All animals have a stress response, and it can be life-saving. But chronic stress can cause both physical and mental harm.
There are at least three different types of stress:
* Routine stress related to the pressures of work, family, and other daily responsibilities
* Stress brought about by a sudden negative change, such as losing a job, divorce, or illness
* Traumatic stress, which happens when you are in danger of being seriously hurt or killed. Examples include a major accident, war, assault, or a natural disaster. This type of stress can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Different people may feel stress in different ways. Some people experience digestive symptoms. Others may have headaches, sleeplessness, depressed mood, anger, and irritability. People under chronic stress get more frequent and severe viral infections, such as the flu or common cold. Vaccines, such as the flu shot, are less effective for them.
Some people cope with stress more effectively than others. It’s important to know your limits when it comes to stress, so you can avoid more serious health effects.
5 Things To Know About Relaxation Techniques for Stress
When you’re under stress, your body reacts by releasing hormones that produce the “fight-or-flight” response. Your heart rate and breathing rate go up and blood vessels narrow (restricting the flow of blood). Occasional stress is a normal coping mechanism. But over the long-term, stress may contribute to or worsen a range of health problems including digestive disorders, headaches, sleep disorders, and other symptoms.
In contrast to the stress response, the relaxation response slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and decreases oxygen consumption and levels of stress hormones. In theory, voluntarily creating the relaxation response through regular use of relaxation techniques could counteract the negative effects of stress.
1. Relaxation techniques are generally safe, but there is limited evidence of usefulness for specific health conditions. Research is under way to find out more about relaxation and health outcomes.
2. Relaxation techniques include a number of practices such as progressive relaxation, guided imagery, biofeedback, self-hypnosis, and deep breathing exercises. The goal is similar in all: to consciously produce the body’s natural relaxation response, characterized by slower breathing, lower blood pressure, and a feeling of calm and well-being.
3. Relaxation techniques often combine breathing and focused attention to calm the mind and the body. These techniques may be most effective when practiced regularly and combined with good nutrition, regular exercise, and a strong social support system.
4. Most relaxation techniques can be self-taught and self-administered. Most methods require only brief instruction from a book or experienced practitioner before they can be done without assistance.
5. Do not use relaxation techniques as a replacement for conventional care or to postpone seeing a doctor about a medical problem. Talk to your health care providers if you are considering using a relaxation technique for a particular health condition. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.