Stress often gets a bad rap. In small doses, stress serves as a motivator to get things done. It also gives us the ability to run faster and think more quickly when facing an emergency. Yet, if you’re constantly running in emergency mode, your mind and body pay the price.
Protect yourself by recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress and taking steps to reduce its harmful effects. Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speed up the aging process.
Many health problems are caused or exacerbated by stress, including:
- Pain of any kind
- Heart disease
- Digestive problems
- Sleep problems
- Weight issues
- Autoimmune disease
- Skin conditions, such as eczema
Managing stress is about taking control and taking charge. Take charge of your emotions, thoughts, schedule, and your environment. Strengthening your physical health will help you cope with the symptoms of stress.
There are a number of techniques that are useful to reduce stress. Here are a few of these ideas:
- Set aside relaxation time
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get plenty of sleep
Find something that calms you and get in the right mindset to face these challenges. Managing your stress will bring balance to your life. While we may not be able to control all the stressors in our lives, we can change how we react to them!
Writer: Beth Stefura, MEd., RD, LD, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Mahoning County.
Reviewer: Liz Smith, M.S. RDN,LD, NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed