Although we may not particularly enjoy it, stress is a completely natural response to any situation where we need to cope with something that is more intense than what we are normally used to. The physical and emotional reactions to stress help us to deal with whatever our lives throw at us and without it we'd be completely dysfunctional.
However, feeling stressed for long periods of time can see your health suffer as a consequence. Stress symptoms range far and wide with vastly differing affects from person to person but there is no doubt that stress has a major impact on our behaviour, thoughts, feelings and physiology.
Many of us may be more than happy that we can comfortably deal with the stresses in our lives and in that case remaining physically active, eating a healthy diet and ensuring we get a good night's sleep should be vital components for continuing that pattern.
However, if you are struggling to cope it's more than likely you'd feel better if you took specific steps to manage the stress in your life, especially if your blood pressure is raised.
Stress management comes in three stages:
- Identifying and acknowledging what aspects of your life are stressing you
- Find ways of controlling or avoiding the sources of those stress
- Dealing positively with the stresses that you experience.
We have all felt overwhelmed at some point or other but some degree of stress management is always close to hand.
Too much stress can have many effects on your body, behaviour and mood.
On the body, stress can lead to increased headaches, back ache, chest pain, heart palpitations, increase your blood pressure, decrease the effectiveness of your immune system, prevent comfortable sleep and cause stomach upsets.
It can have negative effects on your mood which can lead to anxiety, worry, restlessness, depression, sudden bursts of anger, make you feel insecure, make it difficult to focus and make you forgetful, feel burnt-out and feel irritable.
Unhealthy lifestyle choices, especially in the areas of diet, alcohol, smoking and lack of exercise can also be used as ways of coping with stresses. These are often counter-productive and can in the longer term make you feel even more stressed as your health suffers and you avoid tackling your stresses constructively.
Although it may not feel like it at the time, positively managing the pressure you're under is almost always possible - no matter how overwhelmed you feel.