Changing jobs, moving to a new home, commuting to work in heavy traffic. All of these things can cause stress.
It happens to all of us from time to time. Stress is our brain's response to different situations, both positive and negative. It could be the feelings we have while watching a scary movie or riding a rollercoaster. Sometimes, we have stress caused by major life changes like marriage or divorce, serious illness or death of a loved one.
It's important to know your limits when it comes to stress to avoid more serious health effects.
How Stress Affects Your Health
Each of us responds to stress in different ways. Some physical symptoms may include:
- Digestive symptoms
- Depressed mood
- Anger and irritability
Over time, continued strain on your body from routine stress may lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety disorder, and other illnesses.
Coping With Stress
The effects of stress tend to build up over time. Taking practical steps to maintain your health and outlook can reduce or prevent these effects. The following are some tips that may help you to cope with stress:
- Seek help from a qualified mental health care provider if you are overwhelmed, feel you cannot cope, have suicidal thoughts, or are using drugs or alcohol to cope.
- Get proper health care for existing or new health problems.
- Ask for help from friends, family, and community or religious organizations to reduce stress due to work burdens or family issues.
- Recognize signs of stress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy.
- Set priorities--decide what must get done and what can wait, and learn to say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload.
- Avoid dwelling on problems. If you can't do this on your own, seek help from a qualified mental health professional who can guide you.
- Exercise regularly--just 30 minutes per day of gentle walking can help boost mood and reduce stress.
- Schedule regular times for healthy and relaxing activities.
- Explore stress coping programs, which may incorporate meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other gentle exercises.