April is stress awareness month. Stress is an everyday occurrence in each of our lives but the level of stress can be a problem. Are you aware of the stress in your life or those around you? Stress levels can creep up making life challenging for many and can manifest itself into physical issues and oftentimes fatally. “What you don’t know about stress can kill you. Here are a few other things about stress that you may or may not know:
•Stress is directly linked to all six of the leading causes of death. Seriously. Accidents, cancer, heart disease, suicide, lung disorders, and cirrhosis of the liver all have studies that show definite links to stress.
•Stress alters blood sugar levels which poses a threat for diabetes and can cause fatigue, mood changes and blood sugar disorders.
•As stress floods the brain with strong hormones that are meant for short-term emergency situations, prolonged and chronic exposure can actually damage, shrink, and kill brain cells.
•Stress increases cytokines, which produce inflammation.
•Stress decreases the body’s immune system’s response to infection.
•The stress hormone cortisol not only causes abdominal fat to accumulate, but it also enlarges individual fat cells and can lead to what researchers are calling “diseased” fat.
•Stress is one of the main factors causing insomnia and other sleep disorders.” www.nydailynews.com
Stress produces extra adrenaline making it more difficult to calm down. Sometimes we need our adrenaline to increase due to a difficult situation like a violent or competitive act or even public speaking. These are situations when adrenaline increase but slowly decrease to a manageable level.
How do we know when we’re stressed — when we’re faced with the fight or flight situation, when we feel threatened or nervous. Oftentimes, our physical bodies will let us know when we’re stressed like a fast beating heart or sweating profusely. Here are some of the symptoms of stress as noted by the Centers for Disease Control:
•Disbelief and shock as a result of a stressful situation possibly responding to a death
•Tension and irritability
•Fear and anxiety about the future
•Difficulty making decisions
•Being numb to one’s feelings
•Loss of appetite or oftentimes overeating
•Nightmares and recurring thoughts about the event
•Increased use of alcohol and drugs
•Sadness and other symptoms of depression
•Crying because we can’t control what is happening
•Sleep problems caused by anxiety, worrying
•Headaches, back pains, and stomach problems
•Trouble concentrating especially true in the academic setting
We all can manage stress in our lives by eating healthy (oftentimes the wrong foods we eat has a direct effect on our stress levels), exercising which helps relieve stress and get the blood flowing and muscles moving, educating ourselves to recognize stressful situations and avoid it, connecting with family and friends whether in person or on social media, and when you have too much downtime, get involved in social activities or volunteerism in schools, church, or the neighborhood.