Stress overload and what it does to your body.

posted: Nov 15, 2021

stress

Time to Read: 3 minutes


Do you feel like you can never get ahead? Like there are always a million things on your to-do list? Are you feeling like there are not enough hours in the day? Do you tend to feel that you just can’t catch a break?

Chances are, your life has somehow become a series of tasks that continue to pile up. Day after day, you continue to engage in these same practices of over-scheduling and overcommitting. However, some degree of stress is also completely normal. We all tend to experience it from time to time. However, long term exposure to stress can be very problematic for your mental and physical health. Before we get into how it impacts you, let’s clearly define what it is.

How do we define stress?

Stress can be defined as an event or circumstance that takes a mental, physical, or emotional toll. Preparing for an important exam, exercising, and losing your favorite keepsake are examples of different kinds of stressors. Stressors such as these can range in the amount of the time that they are present in your life. Some, like exercise or losing your favorite keepsake can be short term stressors. While, others, like studying for an important exam are more likely to be longer term. 

What makes stress bad?

Well, not all stress is bad. Stress becomes problematic when it is continual and there is no sign of relief. When you experience stress, there are several anatomical changes that occur.  Your body goes into its fight-or-flight response. It may feel like your heart is racing. Your muscles may begin to tense. Experiencing symptoms like these for long periods of time may overwhelm the other systems in your body. These can include your sleep, immune system, and reproductive system. The compilation of these symptoms can also lead to long term health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and anxiety.

How can I better manage stress?

1. Be mindful. Listen to your body. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, it may be time for a break. 

2. Exercise regularly. Going for a 10 minute walk can help put your body back into a relaxed state and help you clear your head. 

3. Regularly engage in relaxing activity. Having dedicated time where you intentionally relax your body can help your mind and body to better mitigate stress.

If none of these strategies are helpful, talk to your medical or mental health provider. They may be able to offer more strategies that are specific for your needs. 

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Next week’s blog: Gratitude

References

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress