What Everybody Ought to Know About Too Much Stress and Your Body

What is stress? Stress is the body’s reaction to harmful situations. When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to prevent injury, also known as the “fight-or-flight” or stress response. This can manifest as an increase in heart rate, quickened breath, muscle tightness, and rise in blood pressure. (WebMD)

Occasional stress is a part of everyone’s life. Working through and processing stressful events is key to keeping chronic stress at bay. (Healthline)

Some common effects of stress can manifest in different facets of your being. They can be physical, mental, behavioral, or mood based.

Physical symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension/pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Upset stomach
  • Sleep problems
  • Low energy
  • Frequent colds/infections
  • Nervousness/shaking
  • Dry mouth/difficulty swallowing
  • Clenched jaw/grinding teeth

Symptoms that can impact your mood include:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation/focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Increased irritability/anger
  • Sadness/depression
  • Difficulty relaxing/quieting your mind
  • Low self-esteem

Behavioral symptoms include:

  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol misuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often
  • Procrastination

Some cognitive symptoms include:

  • Constant worrying
  • Racing thoughts
  • Forgetfulness
  • Disorganization
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor judgement
  • Pessimism

The key to managing stress is also to find active management strategies. Inactive strategies such as watching tv or scrolling social media on your phone may seem relaxing at the time but can lead to more stress in the long term. (Mayo Clinic & WebMD)

Some stress management strategies:

  • Get regular physical activity
  • Practice relaxation techniques, like deep breathing exercises
  • Set aside time for hobbies
  • Keep a sense of humor
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Take breaks from the news
  • Take breaks from your devices
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Talk to a professional, either your doctor or therapist/counselor
  • Meditation
  • Avoid excess substance use
  • Building community through faith-based organization and activities (MayoClinic & Healthline)

Consequences of ongoing, chronic stress can cause or exacerbate:

  • Mental health problems – depression, anxiety, etc
  • Cardiovascular disease – heart disease, hypertension, stroke, etc
  • Obesity and other eating disorders
  • Menstrual problems
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Skin and hair problems – acne, eczema, etc
  • Gastrointestinal problems – gastritis, irritable colon, etc

Too much stress on your body can cause some serious health issues. My sister would get so stressed out she would break out in acne for weeks. One time she was so stressed she gave herself an extra period. Imagine that, being so stressed about whatever it is and giving yourself an extra period in between periods. Three periods in a two month timeframe.

Stress management is so important. It affects your health, your quality of life and can make you so miserable that it causes more stress.

Finding healthy ways to manage and to cope will help lessen the amount of stress in your life. Finding the cause and dealing with it will also lessen the amount of stress in your life.

If you are expressing high amounts of stress and any symptoms listed above, please try to utilize some of the management strategies listed above. If you still feel high amounts of stress, please seek help from a medical professional, there may be underlying medical issues that may be causing your stress.


Mayo Clinic

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Ways to Manage Stress

Ways to Manage Stress

High amounts of prolonged stress can have serious effects on your health if its not dealt with effectively and the right away. Stress can come from either external elements or internal elements. Being sick can stress your body from the inside and dealing with people can cause stress from your environment.

In November 2020, I took a hypertension class which went over what hypertension is, what medications are available, and how stress can affect your blood pressure. They also taught us stress management and coping skills. Here is a list of ways that you can start trying out today.

  • Ask for help
  • Aromatherapy
  • Attend an event of interest
  • Add numbers
  • Aerobic exercises
  • Address the real issue
  • Breathe slowly
  • Baking
  • Basketball
  • Count to ten
  • Color in a picture
  • Call crisis line
  • Call a friend
  • Calming techniques
  • Deep breathing
  • Draw emotions/feelings
  • Dancing
  • Do push ups
  • Driving
  • Drink water
  • Eat a snack
  • Exercise
  • Escape the situation
  • Find a safe place
  • Finish house work
  • Fishing
  • Find a puzzle to play
  • Free write feelings
  • Fly a kite
  • Go to a happy place
  • Golf
  • Games
  • Go to a friends
  • Go outside
  • Go for a run
  • Go swimming
  • Go to the gym
  • Grow a garden
  • Get help from others
  • Help someone else with a problem
  • Hiking
  • Have a party
  • Hugs
  • Hang out with friends
  • Have someone listen to your problem
  • “I” statements
  • Identify triggers
  • Instagram pictures
  • Interact with others
  • Jog in place
  • Jumping jacks
  • Jump rope
  • Journaling
  • Kick a soccer ball
  • Knitting
  • Kickboxing
  • Kickball
  • Listen and discuss
  • Laugh
  • Long walks
  • Listen to music
  • Lay down
  • Lift weights
  • Letter writing
  • Look outside
  • Learn something new
  • Lay head down a desk
  • Make a plan
  • Make food
  • Make a craft
  • Meditate
  • Meet new people
  • Nap
  • Notes to self
  • Never give up
  • Obstacle course
  • Observe surroundings
  • Paint
  • Play an instrument
  • Prepare a healthy meal
  • Play music
  • Quilting
  • Read
  • Run
  • Ride a bike
  • Sleep
  • Swim
  • Soak in a tub
  • Sun bathe
  • Take a walk
  • Volunteer
  • Video games
  • Watch a movie
  • Write poetry
  • Workout
  • Write a letter
  • Yoga
  • Zumba
  • Zone out

Another thing you should look out for is moments of anxiety. Anxiety can cause stress on your body and mind so you must be able to recognize when you are having anxiety so you can tackle it quickly and safely. Here are some signs you are going through anxiety.

  • Memory issues
  • Avoidance
  • Panic attacks
  • Needing reassurance
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Overthinking
  • Sweating
  • Stomach issues
  • Lack of patience
  • Procrastination
  • Constant worrying
  • Headaches

I have seen what too much stress can do to your body. My sister got so stressed out that her body had another period two weeks after having her last period. This made her stress out more and she thought something was wrong with her. Ladies, can you imagine being so stressed out that you gave yourself another period? Recently, she got so stressed out again that she started showing symptoms of pregnancy, but after a visit to the doctor, the tests were negative and she was asked what was going on in her life and it turns out the stress of moving to another country far away from family, plus her husband being deployed only three months after moving to Germany, plus school and having to take care of two cats, one of which is having trouble adjusting to his new home, was the cause of her symptoms.

I’m so lucky that the only thing my stress has done to me is cause insomnia. I can’t even imagine what my sister is going through. I don’t want you to go through the same issues of stress so please try out these stress management and coping skills to help calm your body and mind.

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