We certainly have seen our fair share of epidemics over the years. One that may go unnoticed but affects every one of us in one way or another is stress. It has been likened to a dangerous virus that has infected each one of us. Beginning in the middle of the 14th century, the plague rampaged through Europe, killing a quarter of the population. Today, the 21st Century killer is stress.
Stress – What is it?
What is stress? It may mean different things to different people. The term conveys to many the thought of building up tension or pressure; however, that may be only the half of it. We know that it is some physical or emotional thing that affects our body, to which we need to adapt or else it can pose a threat to our existence one way or another.
Here are some examples: You are out in the sun on a very hot day. Your body heats up. That is a form of stress. Or you exert yourself playing your favorite sport or you are working hard in the yard. Your muscles get tired, because there is a temporary chemical imbalance in them. That is stress, too. Yet we have regulating devices to counteract such stress and restore a healthy balance. One is perspiration to cool your body. Another is a good night’s sleep, which allows your muscles to restore themselves. The stress passes.
However, today it is common to think of stress in connection with emotional pressure or tension, which also can produce bodily changes. When we do not appreciate what changes are occurring in us, we may not know how to cooperate with our body’s efforts to adapt.
At times you may feel that no one needs to tell you when you are under stress. It is true that sometimes you can feel the tension or pressure. Yet in many cases some people fail to link certain symptoms with stress. Hence, they may at best take action to deal just with the symptom, never really touching the underlying cause. That may be so with any of us.
Symptoms of Stress
What are some symptoms of excessive stress or tension? Here are some common symptoms:
- Highly irritable – you become angered and disturbed over petty things.
- Trouble sleeping – it takes forever to fall asleep or you find yourself waking up many times unable to fall back asleep.
- Breathing becomes altered – your breathing becomes short and altered for no apparent reason.
- Muscle stiffness – comes about not because of work or exercise.
- Stomach issues – you lose your appetite or have an inability to eat even small amounts of food at one time.
Learn to Manage Stress
What can you do to manage and cope with stress? First, try talking to someone about your issue(s). Doing so may help you get another perspective on your problem that you normally you wouldn’t have recognized by yourself. Second, exercise regularly. Regular physical exercise will help you to use up the extra sugars and fats in your blood caused by stress, thus counteracting the biochemical effects of stress and restoring your body’s equilibrium. Third, be balanced….