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Stress and Impact on Health

What is Stress?

Stress is an emotional and physical feeling we get when faced with changes in our environment or external pressures (stressors).  Even positive changes can produce an element of stress.

When we experience stress, our body releases the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.  This triggers our “fight or flight” response as we respond to the perceived threat or stressor.  Stress becomes chronic when it continues over an extended period of time and our body becomes stuck on “high alert”.

Acute Stress Impact on Health

—-increase in heart rate

—-elevated blood pressure

—-increase in respiration rate

—-upset stomach/nausea

—-muscle tension/headaches

 

Chronic Stress Impact on Health

—-change in sleep patterns/insomnia

—-change in appetite and eating patterns

—-weakened immune system

—-exacerbation of existing medical conditions

—-development of depression, anxiety and addictions

Ways to Manage Stress Effectively

—-Identify specific stressors.

—-Explore your thoughts and feelings about the stressors.
Challenge negative thoughts and replace them with encouraging self-talk.
Develop safe ways to express feelings.

—-Improve self-care through diet and exercise.
Make yourself a priority.

—-Set realistic goals.
Start small.
Practice letting go of things you have no control over.

—-Set healthy boundaries with others.
It’s OK to say “No.”

—-Practice mindfulness and relaxation
Yoga, pilates, meditation.
Music, art, journal writing.

—-Increase your support system.
Don’t isolate!
Get involved; Go outside; Find a hobby.

—-Reach out and ask for help!!

 

For more information you can go the American Psychological Association (www.apa.org) or contact the Wellness Center for consultation with a physician or behavioral health counselor.