1. Health
Send to a Friend via Email

Stress Busters

Stress Busters

By

Updated October 29, 2009

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Are you stressed?

Stress is the way our bodies and minds react to something which upsets our normal balance in life. An example of stress is the response we feel when we are frightened or threatened. During stressful events, our adrenal glands release adrenaline, a hormone which activates our body's defense mechanisms causing our hearts to pound, blood pressure to rise, muscles to tense, and the pupils of our eyes to dilate.

A principal indication of increased stress is an escalation in your pulse rate; however, a normal pulse rate doesn't necessarily mean you aren't stressed. Constant aches and pains, palpitations, anxiety, chronic fatigue, crying, over or under-eating, frequent infections, and a decrease in your sexual desire are signs you may notice which indicate you may be under stress.

Of course, every time we are under stress, we do not react to such an extreme and we are not always under such great duress or fear every time we are confronted with a stressful situation. Anything which overwhelms us can cause us to experience stress -- the illness or death of a family member, the loss of a job, and difficulties in relationships, are examples of situations, stressful enough to cause physical or psychological symptoms.

Some people are more susceptible than others to stress; for some, even ordinary daily decisions seem insurmountable. Deciding what to have for dinner or what to buy at the store, is a seemingly, monumental dilemma, and there are those who seem to thrive under stress by becoming highly productive being driven by the force of pressure.

Research shows women with children have higher levels of stress related hormones in their blood than women without children. Does this mean women without children don't experience stress? Absolutely not! It means that women without children may not experience stress as often or to the same degree which women with children do. This means for women with children, it's particularly important to schedule time for yourself; you will be in a better frame of mind to help your children and meet the daily challenge of being a parent, once your stress level is reduced.

Reducing stress also reduces your risk for heart disease, the number one killer of American women, and certain types of cancer. Many women who experience PMS and menopausal symptoms will find the severity of these symptoms improved dramatically, once a reduced stress level is achieved. Untreated stress leads many people to depression, anxiety, headaches, and a host of other complaints, making reduction of stress an important factor in improving your total health.

How you can beat stress in your life...

You can find many simple and inexpensive ways to reduce your stress level on your own. A good way to start for many people is to cut out artificial stress reducers such as alcohol, which can mask symptoms and often make symptoms worse. Eat a well-balanced diet which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as foods which are high in complex carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein, and low in fat. Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine which has been shown to increase anxiety.
Related Video
Natural Stress Relief

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.