What is stress and how can it affect us?
When you become stressed your body produces an extra quantity of chemical hormones, called adrenaline and noradrenaline. These chemicals increase heart rate, raise blood pressure and make you sweat. This triggers what is known as the “fight or flight” response, which is the physical way our body deals with stressful and emergency situations, by either handing the circumstances or quickly fleeing. These chemical changes help prepare one’s body to react quickly and handle pressure.
However, additional changes caused by this response can release fat and sugar into your body system and decrease your immune systems efficiency, all of which negatively affect one’s health. These chemicals are also responsible for the nausea, headaches, pains, and indigestion, someone may feel when they are overly stressed. Too much stress can cause these chemicals to be released frequently and a long term “fight or flight” reflex can have a negative impact on overall health and increase one’s risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
Stress can also cause emotional and behavioral changes. For instance, stress induces anxiety, fear, depression and anger. These feelings can cause other symptoms such as heart palpitations, stomach pains, dizziness, uneasiness and headaches, making you feel unwell both physically and emotionally. Also, stress can cause one to change how they behave. For example, one may become physically or verbally aggressive. And others may become more withdrawn or tearful.
How can you cope?
In a world filled with excessive work, exam pressure, complicated relationships, social media, long commutes, lots of change, high standards and new responsibilities, stress is unavoidable. However, recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress and developing ways to cope, can aid in decreasing the physical, emotional and behavioral changes of stress and improve one’s overall health.
Tips to manage stress:
- Check out Healthy UCD Stress Management
- The Resilience Tree
- Avoid poor health habits: smoking, alcohol and excessive caffeine
- Maintain positive thoughts and attitudes
- Identify the causes of stress
- Learn to relax
- Improve your work life balance, by taking time for things you enjoy
- Stay organized
- Unplug – Digital Detoxing
- Stay hydrated
- Eat healthy
- Sleep well
- Practice mindfulness
- Seek support and positive relationships
**Need additional help check out: Healthy UCD Mental Health
Health Service Executive (2018). Stress-causes of stress and how it can impact on you. Retrieved from
Mental Health Ireland (n.d). Stress. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhealthireland.ie/a-to-z/stress/