Stress: What it Does and How to Manage it

Friday, November 2, 2018

By: Heather Knapp

 We all know what stress feels like, right? If you are human, you have experienced stress. As teenagers we stress about friendships, grades, making varsity, and getting into college. As young adults we stress about passing finals, finding jobs, becoming financially stable, and making that transition to being independent from our parents. As we get older we worry about our job performance, creating lasting relationships, our family’s health, volunteering at school, or simply when to find to time to sleep. Not to mention all of the curveballs life throws at us: moving, illness, natural disasters, death of a loved one, and many more. This is a very small list of stressors, but it gives us an idea of all the factors in our lives that can stress us out. It’s important to know how to handle our stress, especially what NOT to do when stressed! So stay calm, take a deep breath, turn on some music, and let’s talk about stress!

 First of all, not all stress is bad. Stress motivates us to perform well and reach goals. Like when we are going to take a test or interview for a job. The National Institute of Health (NIH) explains that our bodies respond to dangerous or stressful situations by quickening our pulse, making us breathe faster, tensing our muscles, and increasing the oxygen to our brain to improve our awareness and help us respond quickly.

 Stress becomes dangerous to us when it becomes chronic. The NIH explains that when normal stress responses go on for too long, they can damage your immune, digestive, sleep, and reproductive systems. Because of this, we all feel stress differently. When I’ve been stressing, I get irritable, usually have a headache, and have very low energy. Others may notice they get sick more easily when they’re stressed, or have stomachaches and digestive changes, anger, or sleeplessness. If we let this go too long, we can suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and many other diseases. Check out the NIH website for more information on stress and your body:

 So what can we do to manage stress?

·         Take a walk or engage in other physical activity

·         Get some sleep and rest if you are sick

·         Write it down

·         Talk to someone

·         Take control of your situation, but be willing to compromise when needed

·         Manage your time…PRIORITIZE!

·         Learn to say NO

·         Spend time with friends and loved ones…smile and laugh J

·         Eat healthy foods – fruits and vegetables

·         Drink LOTS of water

·         Keep perspective – list of things you are thankful for


What should we avoid when we are stressed?

·         Caffeine (coffee, tea, pop, energy drinks, etc…)

·         Alcohol

·         Nicotine

·         People or situations that stress you out

·         Trying to control the uncontrollable

·         Bottling up your feelings

·         Taking on more responsibilities

 Identify the things in your life that stress you out and use these tips to improve your mental and physical health. Avoid the long-term health problems that stress can cause. And, most importantly, feel happier!

Follow this link to learn more about managing your stress:

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Elkhorn Logan Valley
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