Feeling stressed? It seems people are always looking for ways to deal with stress. What is stress? What are the dangers of stress? How can people reduce stress?
Stress is one of the most common conditions affecting people today. The fact that it is common may lead some to doubt its seriousness. This would be a mistake, since stress can be an extremely serious challenge, if left untreated or unmanaged.
What Is Stress?
The American Psychological Association (APA) divides stress into three categories: acute, episodic acute, and chronic. According to the APA, acute stress is the most common condition, with episodic acute and chronic stress carrying the most serious health risks.
Acute stress, explains the APA, is the body’s natural reaction to “demands and pressures of the recent past and anticipated demands and pressures of the near future.”
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) says that the “feelings of stress” stem from the body’s “instinct to defend itself” and that this instinct is quite handy in emergencies, such as “getting out of the way of a speeding car.”
While even acute stress can, depending on the person’s health, be problematic, the most serious problems arise with episodic acute stress or chronic stress. Episodic acute stress is when a person lives on a roller coaster, going from one stressful situation to the next. Chronic stress is continual physiological arousal, and is the most dangerous condition.
How Does Stress Affect Health
The AAFP explains that unmanaged and/or excess stress puts your body in overdrive. “Your body is working overtime, with no place to put all the extra energy,” says the AAFP’s website. “This can make you feel anxious, afraid, worried and uptight.”
Indeed, excess stress can cause a number of health problems, including:
- Headache (even migraines)
- High blood pressure
- Weight loss or gain
Ways of Dealing With Stress
What are some ways that a person can reduce stress? The following approaches will help a person manage and reduce stress in his or her life:
- Consult a Physician – Stress treatment must begin with professional, medical advice. Anyone with stress symptoms or challenges should make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible to discuss their situation.
- Study stress – Arm yourself with knowledge. Read what the National Institute for Health, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and other professional organizations have to say about stress. Become an expert.
- Exercise Daily – Stress experts almost universally agree that one of the most important ways a person can reduce stress is consistent, daily exercise. Consult with your physician about an exercise plan.
- Eat Healthy – A person’s diet affects his or her chemical balances. If you want your insides to work properly, you must put the right food and drink into your system. At a minimum, that means no smoking and little to no alcohol. You should also cut back on sodas. Consult your physician for a more detailed and personalized diet plan.
- Take Control – Be proactive in your life. Set goals. Manage your priorities and your time. Don’t live in “reactive” mode. Think and plan ahead. Take control of your life.
Consulting with a health professional, studying up on stress, incorporating exercise and a proper diet into one’s lifestyle, and taking charge of one’s life — all these things will give a person an advantageous position over stress. This multi-pronged approach will not only help reduce stress. It will also help improve one’s health and confidence.