Feeling like there are too many pressures and demands on you? Losing sleep or worrying about the assignments and schoolwork? Eating on the run because your schedule is too busy?
You're not alone. We have all been there. Stress is one of the worst feelings imaginable.
Everyone feels stressed from time to time— adults, teens, and even kids. But what is stress? How does it affect your health? And how can you avoid it?
What Is Stress?
Stress is a response to a pressure or threat. It is how the brain and body respond to any demand. Every type of demand or stressor—such as exercise, work, school, major life changes, or traumatic events—can be stressful. Stress triggers a surge of a hormone called adrenaline that temporarily affects the nervous system. As a result, when you're nervous or stressed you might feel your heartbeat or breathing get faster, your palms get sweaty, or your knees get shaky.
Few things you should know about stress :
- Stress affects everyone: Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Some people may cope with stress more effectively or recover from stressful events more quickly than others. There are different types of stress—all of which carry physical and mental health risks.
- Not all stress is bad: While stress affects everyone in different ways, there are two major types of stress: stress that’s beneficial and motivating — good stress, and stress that causes anxiety and even health problems — bad stress. Stress is a burst of energy that basically advises you on what to do. It can help you meet daily challenges and motivates you to reach your goals. It can even boost memory. The stress response is also called the fight-or-flight-response. It's an automatic response that prepares us to deal with danger.
- Long-term stress can harm your health: Stress affects both your body and mind, and it impacts overall health and well-being. Managing stress poorly can result in mental and physical disorders, such as infections, illness, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and depressive or anxiety disorders.
- Men are more likely to suffer from stress-related disorders: Women are generally better at handling emotional and stressful situations, and men are more likely to develop a health condition as a result of too much stress. Stress-related disorders include hypertension, aggressive behavior, and drugs and alcohol abuse.
- Stress increases the chances of pre-term births and intrauterine infections: Chronic levels of stress in the mother puts the fetus at a greater risk of developing stress-related health conditions and also affects the fetus’s personality and neurobehavioral development.
- Stress changes the neurochemical makeup of the body: 30 percent of all infertility problems are caused by stress. In women, stress affects the maturation and release of the egg. It can triggers spasms in the fallopian tubes and uterus, which affect implantation. For men, excessive stress affects sperm count.
- Stress has an effect on your blood: During stressful situations, when your blood pressure is high, your blood becomes “sticky”. This occurs because your body is naturally preparing for an injury. Stress also causes the capillaries to close, which controls bleeding in the event of an injur
Ø Set Goals and 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. Note what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
Ø Meditate: The body's natural antidote to stress is called the relaxation response. It's the opposite of stress, and is a feeling of well-being and calm. You can activate the relaxation response simply by relaxing. Learn and practice easy breathing exercises, then use them when you're caught up in stressful situations.
Ø Sleep better: Getting enough sleep helps keep your body and mind in top shape, making you better equipped to deal with any negative stressors. Because the biological "sleep clock" shifts during adolescence, many teens prefer staying up a little later at night and sleeping a little later in the morning. But if you stay up late and still need to get up early for school, you may not get all the hours of sleep you need.
Ø Make time for fun: Build time into your schedule for activities you enjoy — read a good book, play with your pet, laugh, do a hobby, make art or music, spend time with positive people, or be in nature.
Ø Treat your body well: Get regular exercise and eat well to help your body function at its best. When you're stressed out, it's easy to eat on the run or eat junk food. But under stressful conditions, you need good nutrition more than ever.
Ø Build positive relationships: Knowing that there are people who believe in us boosts our ability to deal with challenges. Ask for help and support when you need it. Share what you're going through — including the good things that are happening.
Ø Laugh Out Loud: Laughter really is the best medicine. It lowers the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, and adrenaline. Laughter strengthens the immune system by releasing health-boosting hormones.
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