Life by Choice Anupama Garg

WHAT IS STRESS

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The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James

Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment and is a subjective phenomenon. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental and emotional response called the stress response or the “fight or flight response”. The body’s autonomic nervous system has an internal mechanism that causes physiological changes to equip the body to deal with stressful situations. It flushes the body with hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine to prepare the body to escape or confront the threat/demand/pressure.

Adrenaline increases your heart rate, raises your blood pressure and provides additional energy. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, also temporarily boosts energy by triggering the release of glucose into the bloodstream, to aid the person confront the challenge. Simultaneously, other bodily functions which are not instantly needed, such as digestion, are suppressed.

The body’s response to stress is usually self limiting and regulates itself once the pressure/threat/demand has passed. As our hormone levels fall, our heart and blood pressure will return to normal and other systems resume their regular activities. However the stress response can become persistently activated during prolonged periods of stress. The long-term activation of the stress-response mechanism and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can disrupt almost all our body functions.

Long term stress wreaks havoc on our wellbeing and is detrimental to our health.

Stress effects our:

Musculoskeletal System

Respiratory System

Cardiovascular

Endocrine

Gastrointestinal

Nervous System

Reproductive organs

Sexual Desire

Immunity.

Symptoms of chronic stress include:

irritability

anxiety

depression

headaches

insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams

grinding teeth

stuttering

tremors

sweaty palms and feet

dry mouth

allergy attacks

chest pain, palpitations, rapid pulse

rapid and garbled speech patterns

unexplained weight loss and gain

Increased anger, frustration

frequent mood swings

Frequent crying spells

Constant fatigue, weakness,

Difficulty in concentrating

Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion

Fidgeting, feet tapping

Stress can extensively affect our thoughts, emotions, mood and behaviour thereby defining the quality of our life.

Managing stress, therefore, can involve guidelines to alter the external factors which confront you or the internal factors which toughen your capability to deal with what comes your way.

Anupama Garg

Stress Management Consultant

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