Name It, Claim It, and Tame It! (Stress Management)
WHAT DOES STRESS DO TO OUR BODIES?
We’ve all heard the adage ‘stress kills.’ It’s such a common saying that it’s become cliché. But what does it mean really? Distress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases like heart disease and stroke.
- Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
- Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
- Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
- According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) stress is a workplace hazard and costs more than $300 billion annually.
- The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.
Emotional symptoms of stress include:
- Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
- Feeling overwhelmed, as if you are losing control or need to take control
- Having a hard time relaxing and quieting your mind
- Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), and feeling lonely, worthless, and depressed
- Avoiding others
Physical symptoms of stress include:
- Low energy
- Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
- Aches, pains, and tense muscles
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Frequent colds and infections
- Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
- Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ears, and cold or sweaty hands and feet
- Dry mouth and a hard time swallowing
- Clenched jaw and grinding teeth
Cognitive symptoms of stress include:
- Constant worrying
- Racing thoughts
- Forgetfulness and disorganization
- Inability to focus
- Poor judgment
- Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side
Behavioral symptoms of stress include:
- Changes in appetite — either not eating or eating too much
- Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
- More use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
- Having more nervous behaviors, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing
If you or a family member is experiencing stress, consider the following:
- Talk to your doctor.
- Engage in physical activity.
- Take time to meditate.
- Enjoy the outdoors.
- Engage in deep breathing exercises.
- Do the things that bring you joy.