How can stress affect your health?
We know that some stress can be beneficial.
It can be exciting, motivating, keep us alert and able to avoid danger.
At what point can stress become a danger?
How do we know when we are facing too much stress?
Are there different types of stress?
Does stress affect diabetics differently?
These are all great questions that need to be answered if we are to make informed decisions to live our healthiest lives.
It is perfectly normal to have some stress in your life, we all do. That is life and one of the best things you can do for yourself is to learn to manage that stress in a positive, constructive way.
Some stress is good, it can be a challenge that keeps us performing at our best, it can keep us alert and safe from danger.
Too much stress or not being able to effectively manage stress can and does make us sick.
Stress can cause us to have headaches, upset stomach, high blood pressure, chest pains. It can even cause problems with sex and sleep.
Were you aware that stress is often a major cause of anxiety, panic attacks and depression?
It isn’t just the stress that is the problem, it is how you react to it. Some people smoke, use drugs or alcohol, gamble, overspend, or have risky sex. These behaviours will eventually cause problems of their own.
Causes of stress
Stress is very unique in that stress is very individualistic. By that I mean there is any number of things that can cause stress. What causes me stress may not cause you stress and vice versa. Let`s take a look at some possible causes of stress so we may be more prepared if these situations should arise in our own lives.
Some workplace stress is helpful. These would be things like friendly competitions and meeting reasonable deadlines.
Excessive stress can hinder your job performance and create relationship problems both at work and at home.
We all have ambitions and work demands and it is up to each of us to take the necessary steps to protect ourselves from the damaging effects of stress, improve our job satisfaction and improve our overall well-being.
Losing your job can be one of life’s most stressful situations. After all, it signifies a lot of change all at once that you were completely unprepared for.
It is normal to feel hurt, angry, depressed, grieving for what you’ve lost, and anxious about the future.
This can really affect your self-esteem and sense of purpose.
While it can seem quite overwhelming, rest assured there are many steps you can take to emerge from these difficulties stronger, more resilient and with a renewed sense of purpose.
Especially now, as a result of COVID-19, many people from all walks of life are having to deal with financial stress and uncertainty.
Whether that uncertainty stems from the loss of your job, escalating debt, unexpected expenses or a combination of these, financial worry is one of the most common stressors in life today.
There are ways to get through these tough economic times. There are things you can do to ease stress and anxiety and regain control of your finances.
Whether it’s a family member or your actual job, being a caregiver can be overwhelming as the demands and responsibilities are never-ending that is just the nature of the job.
I was affected by caregiver stress when I worked in palliative care in a nursing home. My stress got so bad I had to quit my job.
My daughter is experiencing caregiver stress as each day she is taking care of her type 1 diabetic son which is why we love to take the kids for a while and give her a much-needed break.
If left unchecked, this stress can take a toll on your health, relationships and state of mind eventually leading to caregiver burnout, which I discuss in more detail within a previous article.
Rest assured there are plenty of things you can do to manage the stress of caregiving and reclaiming a sense of balance, joy and hope within your life.
We all know that losing someone we love can be one of life’s biggest stressors.
We can often feel overwhelmed by the pain and never-ending sense of loss resulting in a wide range of emotions.
These emotions can include many unexpected and difficult emotions such as shock, anger, disbelief, guilt and profound sadness.
The thing with grief is there is no right or wrong way to cope with that pain.
There are healthy ways to deal with the pain and can in time ease your sadness and help you come to terms with your loss and move forward in life again.
Properly managing diabetes is stressful, to put it mildly.
During the times that our type 1 diabetic grandson is here with us, I feel the full weight of that responsibility.
Of course, as he grows and takes on that responsibility himself he will realize that life’s stressors will affect his blood sugars.
What may be a normal stressor to anyone else, can have a significant effect on a diabetic.
Checking blood glucose levels more frequently makes sense during stressful times.
The symptoms of stress are not always easily identifiable as stress-related and may include:
- muscle pain or tension
- sleeping too much or too little
- generally feeling unwell
When we are stressed it may reveal itself with certain feelings or behaviours including:
- withdrawing from friends and family
- overeating or not eating
- acting out in anger
- using alcohol or drugs to excess
Manage your stress
There are several things we can do to lessen the stress or at least help us cope with the stress in a more healthy way.
Reduce mental stress
Something as simple as taking 15 minutes in the morning to meditate can help remove negative thoughts, allowing your mind to relax and set a positive tone for the day.
Meditation is a very powerful tool that I highly recommend and indulge in myself each day.
How do you meditate?
Simply sit in a chair with your feet firmly planted on the floor and close your eyes. Recite a mantra (positive statement) that makes sense to you such as “I will have a good day” or I feel at peace with the world”.
If any negative thoughts surface, simply push them away and allow yourself to be present in the moment.
Reduce emotional stress
It is important to take notice of how much stress you are actually feeling. If you find yourself in an unwanted emotional state be sure to take some time to be alone and focus on your breathing.
Put your hand on your belly, and feel it rise and fall with your breath. Take slow deep breaths in and exhale slowly and loudly.
This slows your heartbeat which helps you return to a more stable emotional state.
This exercise is called centring yourself and may help you deal more effectively with whatever is stressing you.
I have found that by adding yoga to my daily routine I get both gentle physical activity and meditation at the same time.
Did you know that practicing yoga can actually lower your blood pressure too?
Whether you choose yoga or not, I would also incorporate some other form of exercise, try to get a minimum of 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day.
It doesn’t have to be all at once. Try 10 minutes when you get up, 10 minutes after lunch and another 10 minutes after supper.
It could be something as simple as a walk around the block.
Reduce family stress
If family obligations are overwhelming you, remember it is OK to say no once in a while. Your family will understand if you can’t make it to every event.
Maybe the cause of your stress is that you don’t see enough of your family. If that is the case try planning a family fun night weekly or bi-weekly.
I try to plan a family event at least once a month. We usually get together for dinner and games or a movie night in winter or a bbq and fun in the pool or maybe a soccer game in the yard during the summer.
Sometimes on weekends, we plan skating, tobogganing, hiking or sailing depending on the season.
Being active together is both fun and healthy and builds lasting memories.
Reduce work stress
Sometimes work stress can follow you home affecting your relationships and sleep.
If this is the case you may be able to talk to your supervisor, there may be ways to solve the issues you are having.
If that doesn’t help, consider transferring to another department or even finding a new job.
When I felt the stress of my job at the nursing home increasing, I asked my supervisor for transfer to another department for a while. When my requests were continuously ignored I was forced to quit.
Even though stress levels may temporarily increase while looking for a new job, you may find it is actually calming to know you are working on a solution.
The stress may be completely alleviated once you are working in a different position that is better suited to your skills and personality.
For myself quitting my job at the nursing home has given me the time to pursue my passion for writing. I now have my own successful blog-based website and am happier than I ever could have imagined.
Even though I still have a lot to learn, and am not yet where I want to be I am much happier in my current career path.
Maybe is something that you also enjoy, check out the FREE training that got me started.
How Can Stress Affect Your Health?
Well, there are subtle ways like headaches, muscle tension, sleeping too much, insomnia, fatigue or just generally not feeling well.
Stress can affect our job performance, our relationships (both at work and home), leave us feeling unmotivated, depressed, anxious, irritable, we may withdraw from family and friends, express unwarranted anger, smoke, drink or use drugs.
These are all harmful behaviours that are very indicative of some bigger issue, likely stress, that needs to be addressed immediately before these negative behaviours cause irreparable harm.
The good news that there are many things we can do to cope with or eliminate stress in our lives.
I am not in any way a medical practitioner, please do not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another healthcare provider. We only share our experiences. We are affiliates, this means that if you purchase something from a link or ad on this site we may receive a small commission. This in no way affects the price you pay.
How do you cope with stress?
Have you found some great strategies that really help you?
Share your suggestions in the comment section below and remember to check out that FREE training if having your own website appeals to you.