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    The Effects of Stress on Your Body



Stress is the body's reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response.  The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses.


Many events that happen to you and around you -- and many things that you do yourself - put stress on your body.


You can experience stress from your environment, your body, and your thoughts.


How Does Stress Affect Health?


The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress can be positive, keeping us alert and ready to avoid danger. Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. As a result, the person becomes overworked and stress-related tension builds.

Stress that continues without relief can lead to a condition called distress -- a negative stress reaction. Distress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases.


Stress also becomes harmful when people use caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to try to relieve their stress. Unfortunately, instead of relieving the stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause more problems.


Consider the following:

  • 43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.


  • 75% - 90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.


  • Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis,  depression, and anxiety.


  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace.


  • Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.


  • The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.

Finding Balance

To start, what does it mean to be balanced?
It means that you have a handle on the the various elements in your life and don’t feel that your heart or mind
are being pulled too hard in any direction. More often than not, you feel calm, grounded, clear-headed, and motivated.
How do you find your balance?
The elements in life that require the most balancing can be divided into two categories: internal and external.
Oftentimes, people focus on one more than the other. For example, you may find that you focus on external things – like work, relationships, and activities, and that you pay very little attention to what is going on inside your heart and mind.
On the other hand, you may find that you spend so much time being self reflective that you sometimes miss out on the experience of living.  Other people may be fairly balanced between the two but might want to balance out some specific elements within each category; so I this little outline helps us better understand the beneficial components on both ends of each spectrum.
Internal (Mind, Heart, Health)
  • Mind: Challenging yourself intellectually vs. creating opportunities for your mind to rest
  • Heart: Giving love vs. receiving love
  • Health: Eating, drinking, exercising properly vs. resting and treating yourself to some extra yummies
External (Work, Social, Family, Fun)
  • Work: Pushing yourself to achieve goals vs. seeing the bigger picture and enjoying the ride
  • Social: Satisfying your social desires vs. taking time for yourself
  • Family: Fulfilling your familial responsibilities vs. creating healthy boundaries
  • Fun: Allocating time for things you enjoy doing vs. making sure you don’t overdo it
As you can see, both ends of each spectrum are actually positive; but if either side is taken to an extreme, something that is intended to be positive can end up being detrimental.  It’s helpful to check in with yourself to see if you feel balanced.
If you feel pulled in any one direction and uneasy about it, these steps may help you get your life aligned:
Take some time to really look at your life, your state of mind, and how you’re feeling.
Be honest with yourself and notice the areas of your life that you’re neglecting.
Notice if you’re leaning more toward an internal or external focus, or if there are areas within each category that you would like to be more balanced.
Set Goals
Look at the outline to help you decide which ways you want to balance your life. Make a list.
Plan Tasks
Make a list of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that you will need to do to achieve each of these goals .
What have you tried in the past?  Did it work?  If not, what can you do differently?
What is the most important thing you’ve accomplished in the past? How did you stay focused toward this goal?
How did you handle your fears, doubts, anxieties, worries, and negative self talk? How does it feel to know that you accomplished the goal in spite of these parts of yourself?
What is your inner “stuff” that will try to keep you from sticking to your plan? (i.e. fears, worries, doubts, negative self talk etc.) Can you specify the things you will say to yourself to push you off track?
(i.e. “just one more bite, I’ll start eating better tomorrow”)   Make a list.
Is there a person or a tactic you can use to keep yourself supported, motivated, and focused in those hard times?  It's highly recommend connecting and sharing your inner process with someone.
Find someone who can help you challenge your inner demons, and celebrate your little accomplishments.
Just like accomplishing any goal in life, it takes time and effort to overcome your habitual patterns and create new ones.
If you stay on track with this detailed and intentional process for three whole months, then there is a good chance you will create new habits to enjoy a more balanced life going forward!
I also have some additional handouts on balancing life to experience better sleep, energy and overall vitality!
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