February 2015
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Destructive Effects of Stress on Your Health

I’m smack in the middle of a highly stressful day. In fact, I’m taking a break to write this is a way of therapeutically helping me through the extreme stress so that I can reflect on how I let it get to me and what it did to me physically. Hopefully, like most of you, I can learn from the way my body reacts to the extreme stress and do something about it.

There are some really great ways to handle stressful times when they arise, and most of them involve doing something physical that helps you transcend the feeling you’re going through by releasing your stress physically.

Here are some of the stress symptoms I’ve been experiencing today (these are form work by the way, not much of a surprise since the majority of people’s stress is reportedly from the workplace, followed by some personal or family situations).

1. Headache. I don’t get headaches really often, but when I’m stressed I can pretty much set my clock by when they will occur. I got mine about three hours after the stress started, and it’s very difficult to get rid of. I’ve actually taken ibuprofen a few times already to no avail. Tension headaches are caused when the muscles around your head contract due to stress. They put pressure on your brain and give you that typically achy, tight feeling that goes with a stress-induced headache.

2. Tight neck and upper back. Often times we hold stress in our neck and upper back. Some people may hold it in their lower back or even more unusual place like the hamstrings. Wherever you happen to hold your stress, it will become apparent after your mind and body have been under stress only a few short hours. Massage and exercise can help with this type of pain.

3. Rapid breathing. This is probably one of the most dangerous parts of chronic stress because it can influence your blood pressure and heart rate to your detriment.  A slower, more controlled heart rate is the most desirable for long term heart health.  Often times when we’re stressed or anxious, it’s hard to control the rhythm of our breathing. This really just worsens the whole situation by making us feel rushed, jittery and more nervous. What might help? Well, taking a nice brisk walk can help, or get yourself away from your desk and do some seriously energetic squats.

4. Loss of focus. When I’m stressed and frazzled, it sometimes feels like I can forget the most simple things. Things that I would know at the snap of fingers any other time. That’s because our brains get overwhelmed with too much data bombarding it at once. It’s easy to get flustered. Try taking deep breaths and again, get away from the desk, have a “brain food” snack like walnuts or almonds or a banana, and try to get back on the horse.

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