Stress is our body’s way of reacting to various kinds of demand or threat. The “Fight-or-flight” or the “stress response” occurs when our body’s defenses kick into high gear. It’s actually a protection mechanism and when used properly it can help us stay focused and alert. Stress can be a lifesaver in an emergency and can be the reason you have the strength and concentration to slam on your brakes if you need to avoid a car accident.
Stress creates a problem when it becomes chronic. Our bodies aren’t very good at differentiating between emotional and physical stress so the reaction to a potential car accident and a difficult conversation could be equally intense. Chronic stress leads to serious health problems. It disrupts almost every system in the body and can cause or worsen depression/anxiety, pain, sleep problems, digestive problems, and many more.
Stress can often creep up on you slowly so its important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of stress overload. Some examples are memory problems, moodiness, aches and pains, and sleeping too much or too little. The good news is there are several ways to combat stress and relieve the burden. Exercise, yoga, healthy eating, and basic rest are all ways that we can reduce the stress overload in our lives.
Stress awareness month has been held every April since 1992 in an effort to increase public awareness about the causes and cures. The stress management society encourages everyone to talk about stress and its effects, share your coping mechanisms, and look after yourself. Self-care is an easily forgotten stress reliever. Take some time this month to do something that is just for you and will lead to a healthier self in the future.