5 Things You Should Know About Stress

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Everyone feels stress from time to time. But what is stress? How does it affect your health? And what can you do about it? Here are five things you should know about stress: 

1. Stress affects everyone

Some people may cope with stress more effectively or recover from stressful events more quickly than others. There are different types of stress  - all of which carry physical and mental health risks. A stressor may be a one time or short time occurrence, or it can be an occurrence that keeps happening over a long period of time.

2. Not all stress is bad

Stress can motivate people to prepare or perform, like when they need to take a test or interview for a new job. Stress can even be life-saving in some situations. In response to danger, your body prepares to face a threat or flee to safety. In these situations, your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense, your brain uses more oxygen and increases activity - all functions aimed at survival.

3. Long-term stress can harm your health

Health problems can occur if the stress response goes on for too long or becomes chronic, such as when the source of stress is constant, or if the response continues after the danger has subsided. With chronic stress, those same life-saving responses in your body can suppress immune, digestive, sleep and reproductive systems, which may cause them to stop working normally.

4. There are ways to manage stress

The effects of stress tend to build up over time. Taking practical steps to manage stress can reduce or prevent these effects. The following are some tips that may help you cope with stress:

  • Recognize the Signs of Stress
  • Talk to Your Doctor or Healthcare Provider
  • Get Regular Exercise
  • Try a Relaxing Activity
  • Set Goals and Priorities
  • Stay Connected

5. If you're overwhelmed by stress, ask for help from a health professional.

You should seek help right away if you have suicidal thoughts, are overwhelmed, feel you cannot cope or are using drugs or alcohol to cope. You can find resources to help you find a mental health provider by visiting www.nimh.nih.gov/findhelp