Mental Health Awareness Week comes around once a year. This week is dedicated to those suffering, unaware and in some cases ashamed.
This year, the focus is on stress and how we cope with it. Throughout this article, we will identify what stress is and how this can affect a person body and health.
What is stress?
Most people experience stress at some point in their life. However, the meaning of stress is hard to nail down. People often use the terms "this is stressful" or "I am stressed", referring to:
- Situations or events that put pressure on us - for example, times where we have lots to do and think about or don't have much control over what happens.
- Our reaction to being placed under pressure - the feelings we get when we have demands placed on us that we find difficult to cope with.
There is no medical definition of stress, and health care professionals often disagree over whether stress is the cause or result of problems. The simple definition of stress is our body's response to pressures from life events or situations.
How can stress affect your body and health?
As mentioned, stress is the body's reaction to change the requires an adjustment. The human's body reacts to changes in physical, mental and emotional responses.
Our bodies are designed o react to stress appropriately. Like most things, stress can be good for you in moderation and with relaxation, allowing your body to remain aware of your surroundings. If a person doesn't get the change to relax, their body becomes overworked and stress-related tension builds.
What are the symptoms?
The body usually experiences a variety of both emotional and physical symptoms, including:
- Emotional: easily agitated, frustrated and moody, feeling overwhelmed like you are losing control, difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind, feeling bad about yourself, lonely, worthless and depressed and in some cases avoiding others.
- Physical: low energy, headaches, aches and pains, insomnia, frequent colds and infections, excess sweating and clenched jaw and grinding your teeth, amongst other symptoms.
Look out for our Part 2 article, where we take you through the top 10 tips for self-help in managing stress.