A good friend stopped me last week and said, “You look stressed.” I thought, “What does that even mean?” So, I decided to investigate it.

If you look up stress in a Merriam-Webster dictionary it says stress is “A physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.”  

I didn’t think that sounded good, so I looked further.

The Oxford dictionary says stress is “Pressure or worry caused by problems in somebody's life or by having too much to do.”

I thought, “Well, we are all busy, right?”

The World Health Organization defines stress as “A state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Stress is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives. Everyone experiences stress to some degree. The way we respond to stress, however, makes a big difference to our overall well-being.”

I thought, “If everyone experiences it, maybe it is not so bad.”

In a thesaurus there were over a hundred synonyms for stress, such as agony, anxiety, burden, crunch, fear, hardship, hassle, the list goes on and none of the words were positive.

With what I had now learned I wanted to know, “What does stress look like?”

An article on the Harvard Health Publishing website states, “A stressful situation – whether something environmental, such as a looming work deadline, or psychological, such as persistent worry about losing a job – can trigger a cascade of stress hormones that produce well-orchestrated physiological changes. A stressful incident can make the heart pound and breathing quicken. Muscles tense and beads of sweat appear.

“This combination of reactions to stress is also known as the "fight-or-flight" response because it evolved as a survival mechanism, enabling people and other mammals to react quickly to life-threatening situations.”

The most common signs of stress are:

  • Irritability, anger, impatience or feeling “wound up”
  • Over-burdened or overwhelmed
  • Anxiety, nervousness, constant fear
  • Your thoughts are racing, and you can't switch them off
  • Being unable to enjoy yourself
  • Depression
  • Uninterested in life
  • Like you've lost your sense of humor

According to the American Psychological Association, “Stress affects your body with an increased risk for a variety of physical and mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, digestive issues, headaches, muscle tension and pain, heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, sleep problems, weight gain, and memory and concentration impairment.”

My friend thought I looked stressed. I did not realize I looked all that bad! So, what do I need to do to improve? Find a stress reliever.

While looking for a stress reliever I found that the Mayo Clinic suggests, “Get active. Virtually any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever. Even if you're not an athlete or you're out of shape, exercise can still be a good stress reliever. Physical activity can pump up your feel-good endorphins and other natural neural chemicals that enhance your sense of well-being.”

The World Health Organization adds, “Keep a daily routine. Having a daily schedule can help us use our time efficiently and feel more in control. Set time for regular meals, time with family members, exercise, daily chores and other recreational activities. And get plenty of sleep. Getting enough sleep is important for both body and mind. Sleep repairs, relaxes and rejuvenates our body and can help reverse the effect of stress.”

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Coping styles and symptoms of stress vary from person to person.

Learn what works best for you and take positive steps to reduce or control the inevitable stress that shows up in our lives. Take a walk, exercise, find a hobby like puzzles, needlework, reading, fishing or whatever interests you. Make time to unplug from social media. Take in a deep breath let it out slowly and enjoy life.

Take care of each other.

Source link