Our bodies stress reaction was meant to protect us.

When this system is constantly on alert, our health can pay the price.

Our stress response system produces chemicals in our bodies that have effects to help us deal with the stress.

The long-term activation of this system (caused by chronic stressors) can disrupt almost all of our bodies normal functions leading to health problems.

Common effects of stress:

On our bodies:

  • Heart disease: chest pain.
  • Sleep problems: insomnia.
  • Digestive problems: stomach upset, ulcers.
  • Obesity.
  • Headache.
  • Fatigue.
  • Muscle tension or pain.
  • Change in sex drive.
  • Worsening of skin conditions, eczema.

On our mood:

  • Depression or sadness.
  • Anxiety and restlessness.
  • Memory impairment and lack of motivation or focus.
  • Irritability or anger.

On our behavior:

  • Overeating or under eating.
  • Angry outbursts.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Tobacco use.
  • Social withdrawal.

Your reaction to stress is likely different than anyone else.
Factors that can determine your response include genetics as your genes are unique to you, and life experiences like environmental factors and early stressful events.
Evaluate how you react to stress by determining what reactions/actions you have to stress.

Here are some unhealthy reactions to stressors:

  • Pain from muscle tension, stomach upset, shortness of breath, back pain, headaches, insomnia.
  • Overeating, even when you are not hungry and even under eating.
  • Anger or a ‘short fuse’.
  • Crying spells or jags.
  • Depression, feelings of hopelessness and anxiety.
  • Negativity and expecting the worse in a negative situation.
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol or drugs thinking this to be a way to relax.

These are some healthy reactions to stressors you should learn to develop:

  • Eating a healthy diet.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Practice relaxation techniques.
  • Foster healthy friendships.
  • Having a sense of humor.
  • Seek professional counseling when needed.

Next week we will outline the numerous benefits and types of relaxation techniques.