Stress is something that most people experience from time to time, and it’s a normal part of life. At this time, we are experiencing more stress than we usually do. Uprooted schedules, working from home instead of the office, home schooling the kids. A small amount of stress is usually nothing to worry about; in fact, in some situations, stress is helpful. It can spur you on to achieve things or push you to meet that deadline. But constant, or long-term stress, can have detrimental effects on your body, wearing you down and making you mentally and physically sick.
Recognizing your own stress symptoms can be tricky; there are many of them and they can be hard to pin down. You might not even recognize the symptoms or notice how stress is affecting your body until you get to breaking point.
What Does Stress Do to Your Body?Our bodies are pretty resilient, we are designed to be able to experience stress and react to it. There are even different names for the different types of stress - positive, helpful stress is called eustress while negative, unhealthy stress, the type that you feel when you’re permanently overwhelmed, suffering constant challenges is called distress. This type of stress needs to be recognized and dealt with before it builds up and distress-related tension develops.
Better Ways to Cope with StressYou’ll know the ways that being stressed out affects you personally. Maybe it causes your skin to flare up. Or you get an IBS attack. Don’t ignore these symptoms – they can be your body’s way of warning you that it’s all getting a bit too much and you need to calm yourself down. Don’t reach for the junk food or wine bottle when you’re stressed – you’ll appreciate little treats more when you’re relaxed and relying on unhealthy crutches to get you through can lead to long term issues on top of the underlying stress.
Massage is a well-known stress reliever – physically it will un-knot the tense muscles causing headaches and neck/shoulder pain. Emotionally, massage therapy stimulates production of feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine, so you don’t need the chemical relaxants. Reach for the massage therapist’s number next time the stress builds up and do yourself and your body a big favor.