Present Tense: Your Body, Your Mind, and Stress

Monday, November 26, 2012

Stressed woman

Stress can be uncomfortable – and at times it can feel like too much. When you’re stressed, you might feel tense, anxious or depressed. A lot may be going on in your body and mind.

Feeling Stress in Your Body
When you’re stressed, you can often feel it in your body - your heart rate goes up, your stomach is upset, you sweat, or you notice your muscles—like those in your shoulders, neck, or back—are tight.
Once your body is activated, digestion slows down and your thinking zeroes in on the stressor. Not always a bad thing. For instance, say you’ve got a big deadline at work. You might benefit from the extra energy and mental focus to get the job done.

No off switch
When you’re stressed, your body and mind may be constantly “on.” It can be hard to sleep and hard to focus on anything other than what’s bringing you stress.

The long haul
Too much stress over a long time can weaken your body’s immune system. This can make it harder to fight off sicknesses like colds and flu. Plus, stress can make you irritable, depressed, or anxious. That might lead to problems in your relationships with family, friends, or co-workers, causing even more stress! If stress becomes a regular part of your life, your body-and-mind stress response system stays active. So over time, your ability to tolerate stress can decrease. That might set up your feelings to be more easily triggered by even small stressors.    

Having a body and mind that are alert and prepared for action can be a healthy response in some situations. But chronic stress can be unhealthy for your mental, emotional, and physical systems. You might want to explore some healthy ways to relax and deal with stress, starting with 8 Tips to DE-STRESS.

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