HOW DOES STRESS AFFECT OUR BODY?
Not all stress is bad. When you face a dangerous situation, you experience faster heartbeat, tense muscles, increase in blood pressure, fear, confusion, anger and sweating. Such physical and emotional reactions help us by increasing our concentration and other bodily function in order to prepare for a challenge. After meeting a challenge, the body relaxes and the heart rate, muscle tension and blood pressure return to normal. This gives the body a chance to recover physically and for us to feel emotionally rewarded for overcoming the challenge.
However, with chronic stress, those same nerve chemicals that are life-saving in short bursts can suppress functions that aren't needed for immediate survival. Your immunity is lowered and your digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems stop working normally. Once the threat has passed, other body systems act to restore normal functioning. Problems occur if the stress response goes on too long, such as when the source of stress is constant, or if the response continues after the danger has subsided.
People under stress may experience:
ØHeadaches, back pain
ØLoss of interest in usual activities
ØLoss of appetite
ØDifficulty making decisions
People may also feel:
ØTense and irritable
ØSad and depressed
ØUnable to concentrate
All people under stress do not feel or share the same symptoms as above. Situations that are stressful for some people may be enjoyable to others. For example: public speaking, meeting new people, a new job…
WHAT CAN I DO TO COPE WITH STRESS?
The effects of stress tend to build up over time. Taking practical steps to maintain your health and outlook can reduce or prevent these effects.
First: Recognize signs of your body's response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy.
Seek help from a qualified mental health care provider if you are overwhelmed, dwelling on your problems with no solution, feel you cannot cope, have suicidal thoughts, or are using drugs or alcohol to cope. Please contact The Rutgers Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at 848-932-3956 or http://uhr.rutgers.edu/worklife-balance/employee-counseling
Disaster Distree Helpline: 1800-985-5990
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1800-273-TALK (1888-628-9454 for Spanish speaking callers)
Child-Help USA: 1800-422-4453 (24 hour toll free)
Youth Mental Health Line: 1888-568-1112
Get proper health care for existing or new health problems.
Stay in touch with people who can provide emotional and other support.
Ask for help from friends, family, and community or religious organizations to reduce stress due to work burdens or family issues.
Set priorities-decide what must get done and what can wait, and learn to say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload. Note what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
Exercise regularly-just 30 minutes per day of gently walking can help boost mood and reduce stress.
Schedule regular times for healthy and relaxing activities, do something 'nice' for yourself.
Stress is part of everyone’s life…BUT it is how one perceives the situation.