Most people have experienced stress at some point in their life. However, what you may not realize is that stress can also have a big impact on your health.
Stress can cause many of the symptoms that you blame on illness — such as difficulty sleeping, depression or even changes in your sex drive.
The good news is that you can often eliminate or decrease those symptoms, simply by learning how to manage your stress.
Common Signs of Stress
Stress can affect your body, mood and behavior. Here’s how.
Effects of stress on your body:
- Chest pain or tightness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Lack of energy
- Loss of interest in sex
- Pain or tension in your muscles
- Upset stomach
Effects of stress on your mood:
- Anger or irritability
- Depression or sadness
- Feeling unfocused or unmotivated
Effects of stress on your behavior:
- Angry outbursts
- Blaming others
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Eating too much or too little
- Smoking tobacco
- Withdrawing from friends and family
Steps for Managing Your Stress
You can’t always eliminate the stress in your life. Nonetheless, you can change how you react to whatever is causing the stress.
Here are some steps you can take to catch stress earlier, and deal with it before it gets out of control:
- Monitor your stress
- Identify what’s causing your stress
- Use stress management strategies
- Stay physically active
- Reconnect with friends and family
- Have some fun
Stress Management Strategies
There are many stress management strategies available to help you get your stress under control. For the best chance of success, find one that works for you. These include:
- Establishing a coping method for stress
- Deep breathing
- Exercise and physical activity
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)
- Relaxation techniques
- Tai chi
You will get better results from these if you also eat healthfully, reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol, skip the cigarettes and get enough sleep.
If you are not sure whether your physical or mental symptoms are due to stress, see your doctor. While stress is often the cause of these symptoms, other health conditions may also be involved.
This is especially important if you have chest pain that is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Pain spreading into your shoulder and arm
These could be warning signs of a heart attack. If you have any of these, seek emergency help immediately.
To find out more about how managing stress can improve your general wellbeing, contact us for an appointment.