In times of danger, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode – the body releases cortisol and adrenaline to prepare for lifesaving physical action. It’s a basic survival mechanism that goes back to humankind’s earliest days.
Stress isn’t all bad; it’s what gets you through that big presentation, holiday dinner or final exam. Too much stress day in and day out, however, is a problem. The more stress-related cortisol produced, the weaker your immune cells become and the more susceptible you are to illness. Persistent stress can lead to mental illness, substance abuse, weight problems and fatigue and can make other diseases worse.
Signs and symptoms related to stress
Common reactions to stress include:
- High blood pressure
- Sleep disorders
Try these suggestions to help reduce and control your stress:
- Stay organized.
- Learn to set limits.
- Ask for help.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Communicate with friends and family.
- Spend time enjoying your hobbies.
- Try relaxation techniques like meditation, creative imagery, visualization, deep-breathing exercises and yoga
- Get enough sleep.
- Reduce caffeine intake.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Learn something new.
- Talk with someone you trust.
Call your doctor if symptoms of stress have lasted for two weeks or more. If you’ve tried several stress-reduction strategies and are still experiencing debilitating stress, it’s important to get help. Your LVHN primary care provider can refer you to a psychologist or a psychiatrist who will work with you to ease stress.