Stress is one of America's most significant problems. 79% of people say they feel stressed from problems like lack of time, school shootings, politics, family commitments, and more. Americans have a lot on their plates.
But did you know that stress can also be a silent killer? The very things we worry about can harm our bodies to the point where we suffer physically.
Basically, when it comes to stress, there are ways to manage it, but first, we need to learn more about how stress works
What is Stress?
When we say, "I'm stressed," what we're typically saying is we feel overwhelmed or stretched too thin by commitments or thoughts. This is more than just worrying about a situation or feeling overwhelmed; it's an actual biological response to the conditions we deal with.
So when we feel stressed, our body reacts, sometimes both physically and psychologically. Chemical and hormones like adrenaline are triggered by the body to produce the appropriate response called the "fight or flight" response. Some symptoms of stress might be:
- Increased breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
- A rise in blood sugar
- Desire to isolate yourself
- Muscle tension
Stress is our body's way of adjusting to these changes and preparing us for what's ahead.
Sometimes the stress can be positive, causing us to spring into action even for the sake of survival. Other times, when stress is chronic, it can produce health problems. If your stress doesn't alleviate when it should, it becomes a problem.
Why is Stress Called The Silent Killer?
Stress can cause other fatal problems. In fact, experts believe stress is a silent killer.
Remember the adrenaline? Chronic stress can bring destruction to the body from too much adrenaline, resulting in several heart problems like hypertension and high blood pressure. Too much adrenaline also leads to weight gain, headaches, and anxiety.
If these problems are not addressed healthily, they will likely take their toll on the body.
Another chemical that occurs during stress is cortisol. Cortisol is healthy and helpful in short bursts and works to help us through our stressful times. It's responsible for the distribution of glucose, which helps us think through problems and gives us the energy to attack our stressful situation.
An overabundance of cortisol is when it becomes dangerous. High levels of cortisol surging through your bloodstream can lead to:
- Heart problems
- Higher risk of heart attack
- Weight gain
- Brain fog and lethargy
If left untreated and unnoticed, the effects of stress could linger and eventually wear down the body.
Like it or not, stress is a normal part of life. Our bodies are made to handle stressful situations, but not everyone views or even healthily approaches to stress.
When you're unaware of how to manage your stress, you might turn to unhealthy habits such as:
- Drugs, both legal and illegal
- Overspending your money
- Inability to face problems
These activities only avoid the cause of your stress and bring about more problems. Being aware of your stress and facing it is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body and your mind.
How to Manage It in A Healthy Way
Trying to get rid of stress isn't healthy, either. We need stress to propel us or motivate us to accomplish things. However, our response to our stress is what matters most.
Treating the symptoms of stress is one thing, but it's crucial to determine the root cause of our stressors. When we are able to properly understand what's causing our feelings, we can work in a positive way to address them.
Here are some healthy ways to manage your stress:
Talk to a friend! Talking about your feelings or situations with a trusted friend or even a therapist or counselor can bring resolution, especially if your stress is chronic.
Find out the source of your stress. What is it that's causing all these stress symptoms? Figuring out the source can empower you to figure out the best response for the situation and avoid it becoming chronic stress.
Eat a healthy diet. Whole foods keep us focused and full, moreover it helps our brains work better.
Aim for 30 minutes of exercise 4-5 days a week or taking up a form of meditation like yoga.
Sleep is incredibly important for the body. When we sleep, we refresh our brain and prepare it for learning the next day. Seek to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night to manage stress.
Maintain a positive outlook but be realistic. Some things are naturally out of your control. Accepting this truth will help you to move forward in reducing your stress.
As you learn to manage your stress actively, you'll be able to control the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in your body, resulting in a healthier you.
Being Overwhelmed - Seek Help!
Sometimes our stressors are more than we can handle, no matter how much we try. Unchecked stress can wreak havoc on our mental health, and we need additional help. If you find you're still feeling stressed and overwhelmed by life, reach out to a therapist or counselor to help, you work through your feelings and come to a positive solution.
Stress is Good, But be Careful
Stress is a normal response for our bodies, yet if we don't deal with it well, it can become a silent killer. Always be mindful and aware of your stress triggers and learn to manage them accordingly.
Are you looking for more information on how to live a healthier life? Our blog has got you covered. Visit our website today to learn better ways of managing the stress in your life.
- Saad, Lydia. "Eight in 10 Americans Afflicted by Stress." GALLUP, 20 Dec. 2017, https://news.gallup.com/poll/224336/eight-americans-afflicted-stress.aspx
- "Cortisol." You and Your Hormones, Jan. 2019, https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/cortisol/
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