Are You Stressed?

Most Popular

Though causes of

stress can be plentiful, there are multiple ways to combat stressors and the

negative toll they can take on the body.

Christina

Geithner, Ph.D., and an ACSM-certified health/fitness instructor, says people

experience stress in different ways, depending on the severity and duration of

the stressor. Stress can have a positive impact in that it can motivate

as well as help maintain focus and alertness. On the down side, stress may

result in feelings of being overwhelmed or out of balance, and can cause

anxiety and depression.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Geithner says

that stress can have numerous disruptive effects on the body – not just the

mind – including fatigue, headaches, stomach upset, sleep problems, backaches,

changes in appetite, increased cortisol secretion (the so-called "stress

hormone"), changes in weight (loss or gain), increased resting heart rate and

respiratory rate, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, muscle tension,

sweaty palms, and cold hands and feet.

Most Popular

"Stress is a

common problem in today's society, largely because increased pressure to

perform on the job has created work/life imbalances," Geithner said. "Other

major stressors include death of a spouse or family member, divorce, marriage,

and personal injury or illness." She also cited job demands, a move or change

in a work or living situation, relationship issues or arguments, financial

issues, and holidays as possible causes of stress.

Many methods of

stress reduction exist, including breathing, meditation, progressive relaxation,

and exercise. All tend to reduce anxiety, depression, heart rate and blood

pressure, and enhance a feeling of relaxation and wellbeing.

"Exercise serves

as a distraction from the stressor, and results in reduced muscle tension and

cortisol secretion," Geithner said. "The additional benefit of exercise is that

when done alone or used in combination with other stress reduction methods, it

also improves physical fitness and has the potential for more profound effects

on chronic disease risk reduction than other stress reduction strategies."

As part of a

stress management routine, Geithner suggests eating a healthy diet, getting

adequate sleep, practicing breathing exercises, and including aerobic as well

as mind/body exercise such as yoga, t'ai chi, or pilates.

Make time for

activities and people you enjoy on a regular basis, and laugh often," she said.

"Try to accept that you can't control everything in your life. Make choices

that support your well-being and reduce your stress, rather than add to it.

Read Next:
Health & Fitness
Share
Confessions of a Non-Practicing Bulimic: What It's Like to Be a Binge-Eater Who Only *Thinks* About Throwing Up
GIF
Health & Fitness
Share
I Spent a Month Meditating On the Go and Now I'm Hooked
Health & Fitness
Share
What Happens to Your Body After a Week of No-Holds-Barred Eating
Health & Fitness
Share
Ab Cracks, Thighbrows, and Now This: The Newest "It" Body Part
Health & Fitness
Share
5 Stealth Stretches to Do In-Flight Because Deep Vein Thrombosis Is No Joke
GIF
Health & Fitness
Share
5 Experts on Weight Maintenance Because Science Says That's the Most We Can Hope for Until January
GIF
Health & Fitness
Share
Male Birth Control Study Halted Because It Was Giving Men Mood Swings
Health & Fitness
Share
The Year I Gave Up Being Clean
Health & Fitness
Share
Do I Really Need to Drink a Liter in the Morning, and Answers to Other Important Water Questions
Health & Fitness
Share
16 Bad Habits Real Women Want to Break This Year