Knowing the symptoms of stress and managing it successfully

Stress is your body’s reaction to change. It is not just something that you experience when life gets overwhelming, it can manifest whether the changes in your life are good or bad.

The two kinds of stress are Acute (sudden or short-term stress) and Chronic (on-going or long-term stress). Both of these types of stress can affect either your physical or mental health.

How does your body deal with stress?

Stress is a basic defence – hard-wired into our bodies – that stimulates a flight or fight reaction to perceived threats. It causes adrenaline to be released which:

  • Causes your heart to beat faster
  • Elevates your blood pressure
  • Stimulates the release of glucagons, releasing sugar into your blood stream
  • Opens your airways to let more oxygen in and increases your heart rate to deliver oxygen to the muscles
  • Reduces blood flow to the stomach while increasing it to the muscles, which explains why you become pale, faint and nauseous
  • Mobilizes the glucose stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver for use as fast fuel in the blood

The adrenal gland also secretes cortisol, similar to what doctors prescribe for severe asthma or arthritis. This can affect your blood sugar and, with long-term stress, may lead to diabetes and immune system depression.

Adrenaline and cortisol work to keep our blood sugar up to support that fight or flight reaction. When we don’t use the blood sugar the pancreas starts producing more insulin to move the sugar back into storage as fat. Then blood sugar drops (often to below normal levels), we feel hungry and we eat. Chronic stress which makes you edgy, nervy, and irritable and is likely to increase compulsive actions like smoking, drinking or eating excessive amounts of sweet and fatty foods.

How to practice effective stress management techniques

The reaction to acute stress is useful. If you are shaken or shocked, allow it to happen, take some Rescue Remedy and try to talk it over with a sympathetic listener.

The reaction to chronic stress can be harmful. You need to identify the source of stress, accept responsibility and look for alternatives and solutions. Get help, be it from a friend, family member, psychologist or your doctor. In the meantime, help your body deal with stress by going for a run or taking up a physical activity. (Remember, though, it is wise to see your doctor before starting any exercise program, especially if you are overweight or suffer from a medical problem.)

SureSlim’s wellness and weight loss programs include advice on managing stress, helping you to lead a healthier lifestyle and relieve stress effectively.