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Stress, Part One: Stressing: The Positive

posted by KWCS Staff

Stressing: The Positive

Stress and Distress

Everybody's got stress. The good news is, even though stress can't be cured, it can be successfully managed. But the first step is to understand how stress works.

 

The Alarm Stage

Whenever your body senses a challenge or threat, a message is sent to the brain where a special hormone travels through the blood to stimulate glands near the kidneys that make adrenaline. Adrenaline increases heart and breathing rates, increases blood pressure, tenses muscles, and releases fats and sugars into the system to provide fuel for quick energy. This is the fight or flight response which puts all your senses on high alert, giving you that wired feeling.

 

The Resistance Stage

After the immediate threat is gone, your body goes back to the normal level at which it usually operates. Breathing slows down, muscles relax, and the stomach -- which stopped digesting to send more blood to the brain and muscles -- goes back to work. So do the bladder and kidneys, which is why you often feel you have to urinate after a tense situation.

 

The Exhaustion Stage

If the actual or perceived danger lasts a long time, exhaustion sets in. Wear and tear on the body from prolonged stress can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, ulcers, and diabetes. These physical ailments usually lead to emotional problems as well, including anxiety and absolute fatigue.

Some key principles apply to everyone:

  • Different people have different tolerance levels when it comes to stress.
  • Occasionally we end up with more stress than we can handle.
  • If going beyond our tolerance level happens too much, it can lead to disease.

 

But that doesn't have to happen. Early recognition of stress can go a long way toward fixing the problem, so here are some signs to look for:

Physical:

  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches and body aches
  • Sleeplessness or sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Constant fatigue

Emotional:

  • Depression
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Angry outbursts
  • Feeling uncertain or overwhelmed
  • Loss of emotional control
  • Helplessness or hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts

Personal:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Forgetfulness and confusion
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Constant negativity

Behavioural:

  • Loss of interest in work and social activities
  • Increased drinking, smoking or dug use
  • Withdrawl from friends and family
  • Sexual problems
  • Parent-child and marital conflicts

Spiritual:

  • A crisis of faith
  • Emptiness or a loss of meaning
  • A lack of life direction
  • Withdrawl from church or regular faith routines such as prayer

 

This post has dealt with the symptoms of stress, our next post will deal with the causes.