Stress is a natural part of our lives. Some bills come monthly, kids’ activities, and staying busy with work. A little bit of stress is inevitable and even necessary for a healthy life.
It helps us meet our day-to-day challenges and can be a motivator in reaching our goals.
Ultimately, it can make us brighter, happier, and healthier people overall.
Good vs. bad stress
While it may seem that any stress is wrong, it’s not always the case. Good stress, also known as eustress, is the type of stress we experience when we’re excited about something. Our pulse speeds up, and our hormones surge. However, there isn’t a particular threat or something to fear. You may experience this type of stress when you get on a roller coaster, fight in a game, or go on a date. Good stress is temporary and short-term and can be inspiring while focusing your energy and boosting your performance. On the other hand, bad stress is the kind that tires us out, makes us feel jittery, and can be harmful to our health overall. Bad stress can either be short-term (also known as acute) or long-term (chronic). Also known as distress, bad stress can lead to feeling anxious, confused and can get in the way of focusing on something.
If we can find ways to relax quickly and complete the stress response cycle, it doesn’t always toll the body and mind. However, chronic stress, or when we face stressors repeatedly, can ultimately take a heavy toll on the body and result in adverse health problems. Chronic stress can cause headaches, difficulty sleeping, weight gain, anxiety, chronic pain, and high blood pressure.
Different types of stressors
While everyone is different, a few everyday chronic stressors typically include:
● ignored health or mental health problems
● Racial inequities
● Perceived loss and grief
Both good and bad stress results in the body releasing stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones trigger common signs of stress, like butterflies in the stomach, a racing heart rate, and increased body temperature. Ultimately, the difference between good and bad stress is how we respond to or feel about the experience.
Physiological effects of stress on the brain
Stress is a chain reaction. According to Harvard Health Publications, when we encounter stress, a part of the brain known as the amygdala sends a signal to another part, known as the hypothalamus. This particular area of the brain works like a command center, which communicates with the rest of the body through the nervous system to have the energy to fight or flee.
This “fight-or-flight” response is responsible for the physical signs most of us associate with stress. Later on, a hormone called cortisol get released, which works to restore the energy we lost in the stress response. When the stressful event is over, cortisol levels fall, and the body can return to stasis.
Physical effects of stress
Chronic stress can ultimately lead to various health problems, such as the increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Chronic stress can impair the body’s immune system and exacerbate any already existing illnesses. Other body systems can potentially stop working correctly, too, including the digestive system and reproductive structures. Left unchecked, chronic more apt to lead to serious illness than short-term stressors do.
Stress causes inflammation. Experts say that chronic stress is associated with increased
inflammation in the body, which is known to underlie many diseases.
However, the good news is that stress management techniques such as mindfulness and
meditation have been proven to have anti-inflammatory effects, lowering cytokines in the body.
Stress affects your digestive tract. The gastrointestinal tract is composed of nerve endings and immune cells, which are impacted by stress hormones. As a result, stress can cause acid reflux as well as exacerbate symptoms of IBS.
Stress weakens your immune system. Numerous studies have shown that stress can lower your immunity, which may be why you’re more likely to catch a cold after a stressful event at work or school or traveling.
Stress turns into an issue when it starts to take over your life. The key to maintaining stress is identifying the harmful stressors in your life and developing healthy ways to deal with them. Here are a few healthy ways to manage your bad stress.
Eliminate stress where you can. Learning to say no to additional or unnecessary tasks and responsibilities, pair down your to-do list and avoid those who trigger your stress are all great places to start. Once you understand how you can manage your time effectively, stress levels are bound to go down.
Accept there are events you can’t control. Rather than stressing over things that aren’t in your control, do your best to focus on what you can and, more importantly, how you respond to the stressor.
Think positive thoughts. Negative thinking patterns lead to negative emotions and actions, while a positive mindset can help offset stressful and difficult situations. Please make an effort to think positively by looking for the positive, whether you use it as a learning experience or personal growth. Additionally, practicing gratitude can change your perspective.
Get support. Utilize your friends and family, or work with a mental health professional like a therapist or a counselor. Rather than bottling things up and adding to your stress, process your thoughts and healthily express your emotions.
Add relaxation methods to your daily routine. Relaxation promotes health and allows you to step away and clear your head. One of the best ways to promote relaxation after a long day is by using CBD oil. With relaxing and calming properties, our CBD oil is an excellent addition to your wind-down routine.
Stay healthy. Exercise has been proven to play a vital role in preventing and reducing the effects of stress. Maintaining a well-balanced diet and staying active ensures your body is better prepared to fight stress. Exercise not only relaxes your body and mind but improves your mood.
Get a good night’s sleep. Getting enough quality sleep is essential because it gives the body time to recover from stressful events and sets you up to tackle new challenges the next day.
The key is knowing good stress from bad stress. As long as it’s not constant and repetitive, stress can be a healthy and lively addition to your life.