What is stress?
Stress is the physical or mental response to an external factor, such as having an important test to study for or having an illness. A stressor can be something that happens just once (such as a car accident) or can happen repeatedly over a long time (such as having lots of homework).
- When you are feeling stressed, your body releases hormones that produce the “fight-or-flight” response. When this happens, your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure all increase, your muscles tighten up and you sweat more.
- Everybody feels stress from time to time, and usually, the stress goes away once the situation is resolved. However, when stress becomes overwhelming, it can sometimes lead to an anxiety disorder.
Why is managing stress important?
- Managing stress is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle. If stress is not well controlled, it may contribute to an array of health problems such as digestive disorders, headaches, insomnia, and other problems. There is also evidence that stress may worsen asthma and has been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.
What can you do to decrease stress?
- While we all experience stress from time to time, the good news is there are many effective ways to manage it! We can counteract the “fight-or-flight” stress response with something called the relaxation response, which helps to slow down your heart rate, lower blood pressure, leads to more effective use of oxygen in your body, and decreases your levels of stress hormones.
- There are apps that you can download that provide relaxation exercises and tips for practicing mindfulness. Some relaxation techniques include deep breathing, biofeedback, and progressive muscle relaxation. You can also practice yoga, mindfulness, and meditation to help reduce stress.
- Some other things that you can try when you are feeling stressed out can be:
- Drawing or doing arts and crafts
- Exercising and eating healthy foods
- Establishing a sleep routine to make sure you are getting enough sleep
- Avoiding excessive caffeine
- Going for a walk in nature
- Playing with your pets
If you are struggling to cope with stress or anxiety, please consider reaching out to your medical provider. At the Quincy Student Health and Wellness Center, we offer both medical and behavioral health care and we are here to help you in any way that we can.
Please call us at (509) 787-8943 if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment.