First of all, what is stress? Stress is the sense of being overwhelmed or unable to manage with mental or emotional pressure. It can create disaster in the body, triggering various different health problems. Also, experiencing daily stress can weaken your immune system and make you more prone to different viruses and infections.
Here are some of the major symptoms of stress.
Reduced sex drive
Too much stress is known to lower the secretion of the hormones for sexual activity. Stress can increase the production of the hormone cortisol in the body, which can suppress our sex hormones, creating a lower libido. Also, some stress will cause a “fight or flight” response. When you experience a fight or flight response, you'll experience an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate while non-essential functions, like sex drive, are acutely diminished.
Stress can lead to changes in one’s sleeping patterns and you will have a problem falling or staying asleep throughout the night. One effect of stress is that it can cause sleep deprivation. Frequently being in a heightened state of alertness can delay the onset of sleep and cause rapid, anxious thoughts to occur at night. Insufficient sleep can then cause further stress.
Physical aches and pains
Too much stress can decrease the body’s muscles functions. Stress can cause pain, tightness or soreness in your muscles leading to chest pain, ulcers, diarrhea, arthritis, headaches, etc, as well as spasms of pain in neck, back and legs. It can lead to flare-ups of symptoms of arthritis, fibromyalgia and other conditions because stress lowers your threshold for pain.
Prolonged exposure to stress can lead to anxious feelings and restlessness. Stress and anxiety can cause mental or emotional symptoms in addition to physical ones. People who have stress and anxiety over long periods of time may experience negative related health outcomes. They are more likely to develop heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and may even develop depression and panic disorder.
Gain of weight
Weight variations are very common in people exposed to high levels of stress. As previously stated, cortisol rises during tension-filled times. This can turn your overeating into a habit. Because increased levels of the hormone also help cause higher insulin levels, your blood sugar drops and you crave sugary, fatty foods. One may experience a reduction in appetite and consequently loss of weight whereas others will be more prone to gain of weight due to the metabolism slowing down.
Changes in mood
Did you know that chronic stress influences the hormones and mood? Cortisol and other hormones are released into the blood system. These may reduce the volume of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that affects how we react to emotions. When the hippocampus shrinks, this may lead to symptoms of depression. Stress can also lead to irritability as well as memory and concentration issues.
Loss of hair
According to experts, very often, chronic stress is associated with loss of hair due to the changes in the body’s physiologic functions. Hair loss caused by stress is usually only temporary. If you've lost hair as a result of stress or anxiety, there's every chance it will start to grow back once your stress levels are back to normal.
7 Ways to reverse the effects of stress on out body Luckily, the plasticity of the brain allows it to mold, change, and rebuild damaged areas as you practice new behaviors. So implementing healthy stress-relieving techniques can train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects from stress in the future.
Here are seven strategies to help you fix your brain and keep your stress under control:
1. Say No
It is generally understood that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Saying no is indeed a major challenge for many people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, avoid phrases such as “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.
Technology creates the expectation that you should be available 24/7. When you make yourself available to your work 24/7, you expose yourself to a constant barrage of stressors. It is extremely difficult to enjoy a stress-free moment outside of work when an email that will change your train of thought and get you stressing about work can drop onto your phone at any moment.
Taking regular time off the grid helps you to keep your stress under control and to live in the moment. Forcing yourself offline by turning off your phone gives your body and mind a break. Studies have shown that something as simple as a weekend email break can lower stress levels.
Choose blocks of time where you will cut the cord and go offline. You’ll be amazed by how refreshing these breaks are and how they reduce stress by putting a mental recharge into your weekly schedule.
If you are worried about any bad consequences, try first doing it at times you are unlikely to be contacted, like Sunday morning. As you grow more comfortable with this, and as your coworkers begin to accept the time you spend offline, gradually expand the amount of time you spend away from technology.
3. Neutralize Toxic People
Dealing with difficult people is frustrating, exhausting, and highly stressful for most. You can control your interactions with toxic people by keeping your feelings in check. When you need to interact with a toxic person, approach the situation rationally. Identify your own emotions and don’t allow anger or frustration to fuel the internal chaos. Also, consider the difficult person’s standpoint and perspective so that you can find solutions and common ground. Even when things completely derail, you can take the toxic person with a grain of salt to avoid letting him or her bring you down.
4. Don’t Hold Grudges
The negative emotions that come with holding onto a grudge are actually a stress response. Just thinking about the event sends your body into fight-or-flight mode, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. When the threat is imminent, this reaction is essential to your survival, but when the threat is ancient history, holding onto that stress wreaks havoc on your body and can have devastating health consequences over time. In fact, holding onto stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Holding onto a grudge means you’re holding onto stress, and emotionally intelligent people know to avoid this at all costs. Letting go of a grudge not only makes you feel better now but can also improve your health.
5. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a simple, research-supported form of meditation that is an effective way to gain control of unruly thoughts and behaviors. People who practice mindfulness regularly are more focused, even when they are not meditating. It is an excellent technique to help reduce stress because it allows you to reduce the feeling of being out of control. Essentially, mindfulness helps you stop jumping from one thought to the next, which keeps you from ruminating on negative thoughts. Overall, it’s a great way to make it through your busy day in a calm and productive manner.
6. Put Things In Perspective
Our worries often come from our own skewed perception of events. So before you spend too much time dwelling on what your boss said during the last staff meeting, take a minute to put the situation in perspective. If you aren’t sure when you need to do this, try looking for clues that your anxiety may not be proportional to the stressor. If you are thinking in broad sweeping statements like “Everything is going wrong” or “Nothing will work out” then you need to reframe the situation. A great way to correct this unproductive thought pattern is to list the specific things that actually are going wrong or not working out. Most likely you will come up with just one or two things—not everything. The key to keeping your cool is to remember that your feelings are exaggerating the situation and the scope of the stressor is much more limited than it might appear.
7. Use Your Support System
It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to attempt tackling everything by yourself. To be calm and productive you need to recognize your weaknesses and ask for help when you need it. This means tapping into your support system when a situation is challenging enough for you to feel overwhelmed.
Everyone has someone at work and/or outside work who is on their team, rooting for them, and ready to help them get the best from a difficult situation. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insights and assistance when you need it. Something as simple as talking about your worries will provide an outlet for your anxiety and stress and supply you with a new perspective on the situation. Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation. Asking for help will mitigate your anxiety and strengthen your relationships with those you rely upon.
Bringing It All Together
As simple as these strategies may seem, they are difficult to implement when your mind is clouded with stress. Force yourself to attempt them the next time your head is spinning, and you’ll reap the benefits that come with disciplined stress management.
How do you manage stress? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.