Stress is something that affects everybody from time to time, but how much do you really know about it? Here are 10 facts about stress that you may not know... but really need to!
1. It can affect anyone
Millions of people see their doctors every year for mental health issues, and stress is a leading cause. The most common causes of stress are money, career and relationships. Working adults are affected most often, but anybody can suffer from stress, even children and animals!
2. A little stress is good for you
Stress is a natural reaction to a threatening situation and enables us to react quickly in the face of danger. It can also help to motivate us to make positive changes in our lives and get things done. However, when we are stressed regularly, both physical and emotional symptoms can start to occur.
3. Stress is controlled by your nervous system
When we are faced with danger, our central nervous systems switch into “fight or flight” mode. Our heart rates increase, blood vessels become narrower, and we become more mentally alert. These changes in our bodies prepare us for swift action, to either face the threat head on, or run away.
4. Stress affects everybody differently
Stress has many different symptoms and not everybody will experience it in the same way. Some people are more affected by emotional symptoms such as worry, restlessness and irritability, while others have more physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension or digestive issues.
5. Stress can keep you from sleeping at night
Stress is one of the leading causes of insomnia, making falling asleep difficult or causing you to wake during the night. This leads to tiredness and poor concentration the following day. Try to get a good night's sleep by doing something relaxing before bed — take a warm bath or read a book. Breathing exercises are a great way to help you unwind and get a good night’s sleep.
6. Stress can be acute or chronic
Stress related to pressures in your daily life can be referred to as acute stress. This is normally short lived and can cause symptoms like muscle tension, headaches, digestive problems and insomnia. Chronic stress happens when you are living in a stressful situation for a long period. This can lead to depression and increase the risk of developing other health problems later in life.
7. Stress can impact mental performance
When you are stressed, your brain chemistry is affected. In addition to interfering with normal sleep patterns, stress can make you feel anxious, irritable or depressed. Stress is also responsible for reducing your ability to concentrate, make decisions and can even make you more forgetful. When you have a busy schedule, your mental performance suffers.
8. Stress can cause headaches
Stress leads to muscle tension which can lead to headaches. It also triggers the release of certain chemicals within your body which can lead to migraines for some. If you are a migraine sufferer, you may find that you get more migraines during stressful periods.
Reduce your risk of headaches by eating regularly, drinking plenty of fluids and try some of our favorite breathing exercises to keep calm throughout the day.
9. Stress causes muscular aches and tightness
When you are stressed, your muscles become more tense. This is a natural, defensive function to protect your body from possible injuries. However, when it is sustained over longer periods, this muscle tension can lead to tightness, knots and pain. Massage is one of the best ways to combat this as it provides relaxation on both a physical and emotional level.
10. Stress can be successfully managed
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep your stress levels down. Eating a healthy, balanced diet, taking regular exercise and using various relaxation techniques can all help to reduce stress and improve your physical and emotional well-being.
For more ideas to help you deal with your hectic schedule, read our top tips on how to support a low-stress lifestyle.