Do you know what your ‘stress triggers’ are? Is it when you’re stuck in traffic and late for an appointment? Maybe it’s your job, kids fighting, wondering what to cook for dinner or how you’re going to pay bills?
What causes stress for you, may not be a problem for someone else, but most of us have some level of stress, so it’s important to know what causes it and to be prepared on how to deal with these daily challenges.
Life can come at us hard and there are a myriad of reasons to feel stressed out these days. When you start feeling overwhelmed and have nowhere to turn, it’s time to see your family care physician and discuss stress management treatment.
Your Body On Stress
Chronic stress is hard on the mind and the body. The thing is, when you’re constantly facing anxiety provoking events, your brain goes into primal mode and doesn’t discern between a life threatening event or just a minor annoyance.
Your brain doesn’t care if it’s traffic or a wild animal waiting to attack. To the brain, stress is stress no matter what the cause.
When facing stress on a daily basis, your body produces stress hormones that put you at a greater risk for many health problems such as:
- Weight gain from binge or comfort eating
- Migraine headaches
- Heart disease
- Increased anxiety
- Digestion problems
- Inability to concentrate
- Dependence on drugs or alcohol
- Weakened immune system
- Low sex drive
- Upset stomach
- Fertility problems
Do you sometimes feel that your stress is becoming unmanageable? Maybe your appetite has changed, you’re tired all the time, you have heart palpitations, panic attacks, crying for no reason or you’re moody.
Your family care physician will tell you that stress increases the likelihood that you will engage in unhealthy habits such as smoking, eating fast food and not exercising. This in turn can lead to heart disease. It’s a vicious cycle that has no happy ending.
All stress is not bad however. There are good reasons that we experience stress. Stress tells us to run from danger, or it can stimulate the immune system to help fight infection. It’s when stress is chronic, when we feel as if we are under attack every day that it becomes a problem. Your family physician can help pinpoint the areas of concern and recommend treatment for stress management.
It’s impossible to completely eliminate stress from our lives which is why it’s vital to learn ways to lessen the impact your triggers have on you.
Discuss with your family care physicians ways to manage your stress which may include:
- Learning how to meditate
- Getting regular exercise such as walking, yoga, tai chi or swimming
- Practice deep breathing and relaxation techniques to get better sleep
- Take up a new hobby
- Make new friends, join a book club or look online for a Meet Up group
- Find a volunteer activity you enjoy
- Get involved in your community
Remember that there is always going to be something to stress about. The goal isn’t to remove stress from your life completely because that would be impossible. The goal is to find healthy and enjoyable ways to manage stress so that you can live a happier, healthier and longer life.