Stress causes your liver to release extra glucose into your blood stream, which, if not controlled, can even put you at a risk for diabetes 2, warns nutrition and stress management expert Dr Khushboo Thakker Garodia.
Stress is our body's response to pressure which gets triggered when we experience something new, unexpected or that threatens our sense of self, or when we feel we have little control over a situation.
While everyone deal with stress differently, our ability to cope can depend on our genetics, early life events, personality and social and economic circumstances.
Though a little stress in life is good, too much stress can cause negative effects.
It can leave you in a permanent stage of fight or flight, leaving you overwhelmed or unable to cope. Long term, this can affect your physical and mental health.
Here are 10 signs to watch out for:
1. Random aches and pains throughout the body
Stress can make your muscles tense. And chronic stress can lead to muscular pains all over your body.
2. Constant headaches
When your body is stressed, it signals the brain to fight back, which may trigger and intensify headaches or pain in the neck and scalp.
3. Indigestion or digestive problems
When you are stressed, your eating patterns are irregular.
You may tend to eat too fast or too little or unhealthy, fast food leading to indigestion, diarrhoea, constipation and bloating particularly due to the wrong consumption of foods.
Stress often makes your heart pump faster so that blood can reach vital organs quickly leading to anxiety and palpitations.
5. Disturbed sleep
When you have too many things on your mind, you can't stay calm.
A constant feeling of restlessness can make it harder for you to fall asleep and stay asleep leading to irregular or disturbed sleep.
6. Unexplained weight gain or loss
Stress can affect your hormones and have an adverse effect on your appetite and metabolism leading to fluctuations in body weight.
7. Weakened immune system
Long term stress weakens the immune system’s defenses, leaving you more vulnerable to infections.
8. Rapid breathing
When you are stressed, the muscles that help you breathe regularly tense up, which can leave you short of breath. In order to cope, you may start breathing rapidly.
9. High blood sugar
Stress causes your liver to release extra glucose into your blood stream, which, if not controlled, can even put you at a risk for diabetes 2.
10. Fertility problems
A constant feeling of stress interferes with the reproductive system in both men and women making it harder to perform in bed and also conceive.
Healthy ways to cope with stress
While stress may be unavoidable, you can certainly avoid the way you and your body react to stress.
Follow these simple tips to prevent or reduce chronic stress.
1. Find a balance between your professional and personal life
If you are spending too much time at work, consciously schedule time in your calendar for fun, family and relaxation.
2. Add exercise to your routine
Working out regularly balances the nervous system and increases blood circulation which will help you flush out stress hormones.
Something as basic as a 20-minute walk will also make a difference.
3. Eat right and reduce dependency
When you are stressed, the easiest thing to do is binge on unhealthy food or opt for alcohol and stimulants.
While alcohol, nicotine and caffeine may temporarily relieve stress it comes with negative and long term health impacts that can make stress worse over time.
When you eat clean, your body can cope better.
So make sure to start your day with a nutritious breakfast. Make sure to add more fruits and vegetables, avoid processed foods and added sugar, and drink more water.
4. Open up to someone close
Talking to someone you trust releases hormones that reduce stress.
5. Make time for hobby
Pick any activity you enjoy. It could be gardening, reading, listening to music, painting or anything that brings you pleasure and joy.
Doing an activity you love instantly reduces stress and lowers your heart rate too.
6. Practice meditation or mindfulness
Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, music and aromatherapy activate a state of restfulness that counters the impact of stress.
7. Good sleep
If you get less than seven to eight hours of sleep, your body won’t be able to manage any amount of stress.
It is important to pause and prioritise your tasks so you can get a good night's rest.
8. Stay positive
A good way to stay positive is to practice gratitude.
Instead of fussing over the parts of your life you cannot control, acknowledge the good parts of your day or life and allow them to make you feel good about yourself.
9. Learn to say NO
When there are additional responsibilities added to your regular schedule, it only adds to unnecessary stress.
Prioritise what is important and learn to say No when you can't.
10. See a counselor, coach or therapist
If you feel that in spite of trying many stress management techniques, negative thoughts continue to overwhelm your ability to make positive changes, it’s time to seek professional help.
Do not hesitate to talk about your fears or ask for advice and suggestions.
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