Stress is the body’s physical, mental, and emotional response to change. Stress is a normal part of life. Even positive life changes such as a promotion or the birth of a child produce stress. The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress can be positive, keeping us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between stressors.
Persistent stress disturbs the body’s internal balance, leading to physical symptoms such as headaches, an upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, sexual dysfunction, trouble sleeping and emotional problems. Stress is linked to 6 of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide. When stressed individuals engage in compulsive behaviors or substance abuse in an attempt to relieve their stress, it only causes more problems and the distressed person becomes trapped in a vicious cycle.
The Cleveland Clinic offers the following tips for reducing stress:
- Keep a positive attitude.
- Accept that there are events that you cannot control.
- Assert your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry or defensive.
- Learn and practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or tai-chi.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat healthy, balanced meals.
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