It’s no secret that everyone has stress, but what do you really know about stress? Learning about stress can be an early step in getting it under control. Here are the basics.
Good Stress, Bad Stress
Stress is a natural response that can help you rise to the occasion. As your heart beats faster, breathing deepens, and muscles tense, your brain can become hyper-focused and your blood sugar levels can rise to give you energy. That quick response can get you ready for challenges such as an athletic competition, an important presentation, or getting four kids ready for school while taking care of the dog and caring for a sick parent at the same time. In those situations, stress is a short-term response, and a positive thing.
Chronic stress is a prolonged stress response. It is a stress response that continues for weeks, months, or longer. While acute stress is a helpful short-term adaptation, chronic stress can be a sign that balance needs to shift.
Stress and Health
Chronic stress can have harmful effects on health. Physical effects can include chronic inflammation, upset stomach, headaches, muscle aches, weight gain, trouble sleeping, and heart conditions. Emotional and cognitive effects can include poor focus, irritability, feeling overwhelmed, depression, and loneliness. Those can be good motivation to manage stress!
Causes of Stress
Stress can come from many sources. Common sources include job, relationship, financial, and family concerns, as well as life events, such as losing a job, getting divorced, and being diagnosed with an illness. Stress can also result from internal thoughts, such as a negative attitude, feeling the need to control everything, and perfectionism.
Now that you know a bit about stress, here is the good news: stress management can be very effective at helping you control stress and reducing its negative effects. Deep breathing, meditation, and other relaxation techniques can help. So can eating right, getting enough sleep and exercise, and practicing other self-care methods. Finally, limiting sources of stress whenever possible can help.
Lark is there to help identify stress, guide you through stress management techniques, as well as to offer support to keep stress at healthier levels.