Love It, Hate It, Can’t Live Without It
Stress is caused by a multitude of factors: work, family, relationship issues, the news, medical diagnosis, or a physical trauma. The entire event could also be the result of a mental issue. Stress occurs every day. Not a single person is immune. Even infants show signs of stress in the form of crying. Triggers vary greatly and are entirely dependent on the individual. What can cripple one person, may go unnoticed by another. Surprisingly, not all stress is bad and can even be lifesaving.
How does stress affect the body?
During times of stress the body will increase production of cortisol. Increased levels of cortisol can lead to a long list of health issues such as: high heart rate, increased blood pressure, gastrointestinal issues, diabetes, weight gain/loss, various skin conditions, headaches, disruption in menstrual cycles, and reproductive issues for both men and women. High levels of cortisol can contribute to Cushing Syndrome. Cushing’s is characterized by rapid weight gain in the core of the body and can cause high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and mood swings. Low levels of cortisol can contribute to Addison disease. Addison’s is an autoimmune disorder affecting adrenal glands. Adrenal insufficiency is experienced as fatigue, muscle loss, mood swings, and weight loss
How does stress affect the mind?
Elevated levels of stress can make a person anxious and depressed. Judgement becomes clouded and the person may begin to think or act irrationally. Stress frequently leads to decreased productivity and rumination on the issues at hand. Stress often begets more stress. What is felt mentally quickly translates to being felt physically. Often one isn’t without the other.
Stress is not necessarily a bad thing.
Stress is the body’s internal alarm system and the body’s way of identifying an internal or external stimulant and determining what to do with it. Not all stress is bad. Stress can be a motivator in tackling simple or complex tasks. Good stress encourages preparation and execution. Stress can also prevent people from engaging in or repeating damaging behavior. The body’s fight or flight response is stress driven. Senses sharpen and often the person acquires a sharp sense of clarity. Small doses of stress can also be healthy for the body’s immune and cardiovascular systems.
Signs of too much stress
The body is very good at letting the host know about potential threats. Heart rate quickens and the person may have difficulty concentrating. Headaches, sleep issues, increased health problems, changes in appetite, and mood swings are all signs of excess stress.
Ways to reduce stress
There are many steps that can be taken to reduce or eliminate stressors.
- Identify triggers
- Practicing time management
- Get enough sleep
- Eating healthy
- Getting 20-30 mins a day of exercise
- Celebrate imperfections and be flexible
Mostly promoted by homeopathic professionals, there are several natural supplements that can be taken to reduce stress. Western medicine recommends vitamin B complex, magnesium, melatonin, and omega-3s to combat stress related symptoms. Whether the patient decides to go the natural or medicinal route, there is a supplement for everyone. Stress isn’t always comfortable but serves a purpose. Not limited to just the mind, stress affects the body as well and can result in numerous health complications. Finding a way to identify the trigger and relax are key to moving forward and taking back control.