Stress – the final
frontier. The final health frontier, that is! Stress is unavoidable. It goes by many different names: tension, apprehension, anxiety, or that "uptight" feeling. Whatever you call it, it's a "built in" response that has been with us since the days of the cave men.
Medically, stress is the presence of either emotional or physical tension. Each of us has a different set of triggers
for emotional stress. Meeting a deadline at work may trigger tension in one person; speaking before a group of people may trigger an emotional response in another.
Even though stress is many times an emotional response, it produces very real physical symptoms in your body. Your body responds to the situation as if it were in danger. Your heart rate speeds up and you breathe faster. This gives your body a burst of energy known in medical circles as "the fight-or-flight" syndrome. Other symptoms that your body is responding to stress include increased sweating and a sudden rush of strength. Lesser symptoms include dilated pupils and a slowed digestive system.
Stress is a normal – and even a very useful – tool. The increased energy your body generates when it's under stress can be exactly what you need to meet that deadline or to heighten that reaction time under demanding circumstance.
However, stress can be harmful if your body is exposed to it too often, or for too long of a period. Prolonged exposure to these situations can not only cause headaches, an upset stomach, and back pain – it can even disturb your sleep.
And that's just the short-term effects. Longer lasting effects on your body include a weakened immune system which makes it more difficult to fight off a cold or other health problems. If you already suffer from a health condition, additional stress can worsen it.
Emotionally speaking, stress can also have detrimental affects. If you're under a great deal of tension, you may also find that you're moodier than usual – with the smallest of problems setting you off – more tense than usual and you may even experience depression.
But the good news is that stress is manageable – and it's relatively easy to control. First, you need to identify exactly what it is that's causing the stress in your life. Are there work-related or school-related activities that are triggering your anxiety, financial problems at home, or are you distressed about a personal problem or a relationship?
Once you identify the stressors, then you can create a plan of dealing more effectively with them. If you can't change the situation, then you'll have to discover more effective ways to cope with it. If it's a lifestyle that is over-scheduled with events, then you'll want to look at ways of "unscheduling" some events.
Next, you may want to look at some stress management techniques. The medical establishment now recognizes several methods for dealing with anxiety, including meditation, yoga. Keep in mind that stress management has no "once-size-fits-all" cure. What works for your neighbor may be ineffective for you. You may need to try out several solutions until you find one that helps. Just keep searching for a solution that suits your needs, you'll find one.
Note: Some statements in this
article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational
purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.