As a part of Mental Health Month’s “Mind Your Health” theme for 2014, today, we will discuss stress, the body, and mental health.
I am a high-stress individual. If my day, and the people around me, are calm, cool, and collected, I am okay too.
However, if my day is packed, I’m feeling pressure, or there is a big event going on, I am likely to feel irritable, anxious, or depressed.
Coping with stress is one of the biggest challenges I deal with.
I’ve internalized my stress, and over time, it’s had an impact on mind and body.
I realize that life is never going to be easy. I need to let go, and be okay with that. I will always experience challenges, and I must learn how to cope in order to have a better quality of life.
I am working long-term with my therapists and doctors on stress management. It is shocking to learn what stress is doing to our body and mind. According to Mental Health America (MHA), here is what stress can do to us:
- The Brain:
- Stress can cause headaches, sadness, lack of energy, nervousness, irritability, trouble concentrating, memory issues, difficulty sleeping, and even mental health disorders themselves.
- The Heart:
- If you are experiencing stress, you may have a faster heartbeat, heart palpitations, a rise in blood pressure, and an increased risk for high cholesterol and even heart attacks.
- The Stomach:
- The stomach can be affected by stress—nausea, aches, heartburn, weight gain, and appetite changes are some of the symptoms.
- The Pancreas:
- Stress can increase your risk for diabetes.
- The Intestines:
- Diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive problems can occur due to stress.
- The Reproductive Organs:
- For women, stress can cause irregular or painful periods and reduced sexual desire. In men, impotence, low sperm production, and reduced sexual desire may also occur.
- Other Effects:
- Other effects on your body due to stress may be acne, muscle aches, and a weakened immune system. Some women may also be at an increased risk for low bone density.
According to the American Psychological Association, nearly 70% of Americans experience physical and mental symptoms of stress.
What can I do about it?
- Learn to say no: if you’re feeling overwhelmed by tasks or activities, eliminate an activity that you don’t HAVE to do. Be realistic. You may be taking on more than you can handle. Many of us do more than we should. Don’t feel bad about saying no…for yourself.
- Don’t expect to be perfect: Ask yourself how much you can comfortably do, what is realistic, and what adjustments you can make, including asking for help.
- Take care of yourself: Meditate, Exercise, and eat healthy. Do what makes you relaxed and happy, and make sure you are doing these things regularly in order to offset stress.
- Share your feelings with friends and loved ones, strive to be flexible, and do not expect too much of yourself or others. Avoid criticisms of character on yourself and your loved ones.
- Commit to practicing positive thinking.
If you are concerned about your mental or physical health due to stress, consult your physician. We may not notice how much stress is affecting us until we feel quite poorly.
How do you handle stress? What would you like to share with others about stress management?