Do we really know the impact of stress?
Do we know that stress can make our brain more susceptible to mental illness?
Stress, no matter its cause has been found to alter brain activities in ways that can have a long-term lasting detrimental effect on our mental health. There are several ways stress produces lasting damage to our mental health and one of these is by indirectly interfering with the normal functioning of our bodily chemicals which are called neurotransmitters. These chemicals in turn directly impair the function of the pre-frontal cortex of our brain, which is the area known to be home to higher level of thinking in man. Now what happens is that when these normal functions are disrupted, our reflective tendencies become inhibited while our reactive tendencies takes over and these automatically results to being consumed by feelings of anxiety, aggression and even depression.
Stress however does not only have damaging effect on our mental health but it also has negative lasting effect on our body, mood and behaviour.
Ways stress can affect our body:
- Having constant headaches
- Chest pain
- Experiencing fatigue
- Change in sex drive
- Developing sleep problems
- Stomach upset, and having muscle pain.
Ways stress affects our mood:
- Producing feelings of anxiety
- Lack of motivation or drive
- Causing irritability
- Anger outburst and overwhelming feelings of sadness.
Stress doesn’t leave our behaviour out of its reach as it also finds a way to cause overeating or under eating, social withdrawal, which can in turn lead to drug or alcohol abuse.
Here are 5 tips to help you “de-stress”:
1. Remember: This Too Shall Pass! Stress can lead to excessive worry, nervousness, dread, upset stomach, or difficulty breathing. The first step to overcoming negative feelings and stressful situations is recognizing that you are experiencing a very common emotional state most commonly identified as anxiety and that in fact it WILL PASS! Fighting the anxiety can make it stronger. Paradoxically, accepting that you are feeling anxious helps activate the body’s natural relaxation response.
2. Diaphragmatic Breathing: This is an effective way to activate relaxation response as its goal is to decrease the heart rate. It’s been observed that a rapid heart rate can be lowered with deep breathing techniques. The most commonly utilized strategy is breathing by contracting the diaphragm, a horizontal muscle in the chest located just above the stomach cavity.For more information, visit www.mobilehealthconsult.org
3. Check Your Diet: Little do we know that what we drink and eat impacts greatly on our emotional state and food containing caffeine and alcohol have been found to be highly associated with stress/anxiety triggered state. When any of these is consumed on a regular basis, it can cause anxiety, trigger panic attacks, and increase feelings of nervousness and irritability. In light of this knowledge, it is important to decrease consumption of these stressor ingredients and also create a log for our daily meals which we would decide to carefully observe so as to take note of those causing more harm than good whenever they are consumed.
4. Get Moving: Maintaining a regular (healthy, non-obsessive) exercise routine. Being on the move daily and getting more involved in sporting activities has been proven to reduce stress, improve mood, enhance self-esteem, and increase energy levels. You can choose any of the various sporting exercise that best suits you and make a decision to commit yourself to it dedicatedly.
5. Get More Sleep: You will be surprised at how losing just a few hours of sleep can increase the feelings of stress, anger, sadness, and exhaustion and so getting the right amount of sleep on a daily basis is absolutely important if we desire to be rid of stressful and anxiety prone situations.
Now that you have the tips to keeping stress at bay at your disposal, be sure to make them a part of your lifestyle
Have a stress- free day!