We are all STRESSED!
“Stress is how the brain and body react to a demand.” (National Institute of Mental Health). Our brain can’t determine if that situation is real or if we are imagining it. Our body and brain will respond in the same manner.
You might notice symptoms of stress when you are trying to get your children ready for school, road rage, being late for a meeting, high demands at work, being a stay at home parent, trying to figure out your finances, or your pet is sick.
FIGHT, FLIGHT or FREEZE
When we sense fear or tension, our body goes into “fight, flight or freeze” response.
Our brain releases stress hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones are what causes our heart rate to increase, blood pressure to rise, increase oxygen – rich blood to our body, increase muscle tension, digestive system to slow down, and lower our immune system.
The moment we feel stressed, we quickly make a decision on how we are going to handle it. We can feel like we have so much strength and can battle what ever is coming our way (fight); run away because that stressor is too powerful for you to fight (flight); or realize that you can’t fight or run away from the stressor and you’re body freezes up (freeze).
SYMPTOMS OF STRESS:
Every person will display different symptoms of stress. Here are some of the symptoms:
– Digestive problems
– Rapid heart rate
– Lower self – esteem
– Feeling overwhelmed
– Avoidance (friends, social events, work)
– Constant worrying
– Change in eating (overeating or lack of appetite)
– Lower sex drive
– Twitching/ Nail biting/ Constant tapping of your foot or hands
A little bit of stress is Ok! This is the stress we might feel when we are preparing for a job interview. Starting your own company. Learning to drive. When these stressful situations end, our body stops producing the stress hormones and our body returns to it’s normal state. But what if it doesn’t? What if we are always worried, anxious and stressed?
If your body is unable to return to its natural state before a stressor was triggered, your body is in constant stress. It’s the untreated chronic and constant stress that needs to be dealt with before it seriously impacts your physical and mental well – being.
Some of the health problems with chronic stress are:
– Obesity or eating disorders
– Anxiety, depression
– Increase risk of heart attacks, hypertension, stroke
HEALTHY COPING STRATEGIES
– Talk about it – family, friends, coworker
– Get help from a psychologist
– Know your triggers
– Find ways to calm yourself (deep breaths, worry jar, stress ball)
– Healthy eating
– Set goals and priorities – you don’t need to clean the entire house in one day! Set your 1-2 intentions for the day
– Focus on the positive
– Take a holiday – time to yourself or with your family
– Improve your sleeping patterns
If your stress feels unbearable and you need to talk to someone
National Crisis Hotlines
Kids Help Phone
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention
Canadian Mental Health Association
We all deal and handle stress differently. It is determining what works for you to calm yourself down. BUT REMEMBER … you are NOT ALONE! Please ask for help if you can’t handle your stress, or if you don’t know how to handle your stress. There are too many health risks if you don’t do something about it!