How Stress Affects Your Body And Brain
And What To Do About It
Which of these is stress?
- You receive a promotion at work.
- Your car has a flat tire.
- You go to a fun party that lasts till 6:00 a.m.
- Your dog gets sick.
- Your new bedroom set is being delivered.
- Your best friend and his wife come to stay at your house
for a week.
- You get a bad case of hay fever.
- All of the above.
ALL OF THESE ARE STRESS.
If you are used to thinking that stress is something that
makes you worry, you have the wrong idea of stress. Stress
is many different kinds of things: happy things, sad things,
allergic things, and physical things. Many people carry enormous
stress loads and they do not even realize it!
What is Stress?
We are all familiar with the word "stress". Stress is when
you are worried about getting laid off your job, or worried
about having enough money to pay your bills, or worried about
your mother when the doctor says she may need an operation.
In fact, to most of us, stress is synonymous with worry. If
it is something that makes you worry, then it is stress.
Your body, however, has a much broader definition of stress.
To your body, stress is synonymous with change. Anything that
causes a change in your life causes stress. It doesn't matter
if it is a "good" change or a "bad" change, they are both
stress. When you find your dream apartment and get ready to
move, that is stress. If you break your leg, that is stress.
Good or bad, if it is a change in your life, it is stress
as far as your body is concerned.
Even imagined change is stress. (Imagining changes is what
we call "worrying".) If you fear that you will not have enough
money to pay your rent, that is stress. If you worry that
you may get fired, that is stress. If you think that you may
receive a promotion at work, that is also stress (even though
this would be a good change). Whether the event is good or
bad, imagining changes in your life is stressful.
Anything that causes change in your daily routine is stressful.
Anything that causes change in your health is stressful. Imagined
changes are just as stressful as real changes.
Stress Affects Your Body and Brain
Stress causes problems with the chemicals in your brain. When
life is smooth, your brain is able to produce enough "calming
chemicals," such as serotonin, to keep up with normal levels
of stress, demands, and expectations. But when too much stress
is placed on the brain, it begins to fall behind in its ability
to cope. As the stress continues, some of the calming chemicals
may begin to fail. Important nerve centers then become distressed.
You enter a state of brain chemical imbalance known as --
Overstress makes people feel terrible. With stress overwhelming
the brain, a person feels "overwhelmed" by life. People complain
of being tired, unable to fall asleep or to obtain a restful
night's sleep. They have plagues of aches and pains, lack
of energy, lack of enjoyment of life. They feel depressed,
anxious, or just unable to cope with life.
Stress Affects Your Looks
From the above description, you can probably imagine that
overstress can affect your looks. When you can't sleep, you
look tired. When you have aches and pains, you look (and feel)
unhappy. When you have no energy, you can't participate in
life with your usual smile and sparkle. Stress can also cause
skin rashes and stomach problems, which will also affect how
How to Combat Stress
Breathing exercises are a wonderfully effective way to reduce
stress, regulate mood, and feel energized. One way to promote
deeper breathing and better health is by exhaling completely.
Try it: take a deep breath, let it out effortlessly, and then
squeeze out a little more. Doing this regularly will help
build up the muscles between your ribs, and your exhalations
will naturally become deeper and longer. Start by practicing
this exhalation exercise consciously, and eventually it will
become a healthy, unconscious habit.
For many people, exercise is a main method of reducing stress
and promoting relaxation. One of the benefits of regular aerobic
exercise is its moderating effect on emotions, both long-term
and short-term. If you feel angry or upset, a brisk walk or
run or a half hour of lifting weights will often put you back
in a good mood. While exercise is a great way to burn up excess
energy and dissipate tension, it does not necessarily teach
you how to process stress differently, and is best used as
a complement to another technique, such as breathing, visualization
or yoga, for instance. Yoga is an excellent promoter of relaxation
as well as a good form of non-aerobic body conditioning. It
perfectly complements aerobic exercise.
Did you know pessimism has been linked to a higher risk of
dying before age 65? On the other hand, expressing positive
emotions, such as optimism, is associated with a variety of
health benefits: lowered production of the stress hormone
cortisol, better immune function, and reduced risk of chronic
If you are stressed-out or anxious, and tend to become negative
when in this state of mind, try the following steps:
- Take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet, exercising
regularly and getting adequate sleep.
- Express your emotional reactions honestly so you can
effectively deal with what's bothering you.
- Confide in someone - your mate, a good friend or a trusted
- View the cup as half full instead of half empty.
Maria Llorente is a qualified Make Up Artist and
beauty expert who writes on health and beauty subjects. http://www.tuimagenpersonal.com