It is natural to feel tension and stress at times—when stuck in traffic on the way to work, when trying to get your three-year-old to go to bed on time, when talking with your spouse about Christmas bills that now are trickling in, or when hearing about a tragedy in your neighborhood or around the world. If stress is left unchecked, it can be a killer. Studies show that short bursts of stress can actually improve your cognitive ability and help your body’s immune response; however, excessive stress can cause you to burn out.
People experiencing excessive stress often complain of headaches, an upset stomach, depression, skin conditions like psoriasis, sleep disturbances, anger and an inability to concentrate. This out of control stress can hinder your body’s ability to fight ailments such as colds and flu. It can also progress serious diseases such as hypertension, cancer, heart disease, and can impede your body’s ability to repair itself effectively. Noticing these symptoms can help you assess if you are experiencing normal stress or excessive, out of control stress.
Stress is caused by both internal and external factors. External factors like a job, relationships and home life contribute to your particular stress level everyday. Depending on your internal state, it’s easier to deal with stressful situations on some days more than others.
In addition to talking with your doctor, widely suggested methods for coping with stress include:
• Practicing relaxation through meditation
• Utilizing time management
• Developing organization skills
• Cultivating and using your support systems
No one is immune to stress, although certain groups of people experience more stress than others. For example, caring for a sick loved one, or living with someone who experiences high levels of stress can also cause you to experience stress. If you don’t get enough sleep or don’t eat healthy food you could be more susceptible to stress as well. Age and family history are also factors that determine how much stress you experience.