"Don't sweat the small stuff... and it's all small stuff."
Richard Carlson, PH.D.
So much we worry about stress, speculate about stress, and wish it would go away. Seldom do we stop to ask what it is. Little wonder. For stress is a complicated thing to define. The word originates from the language of engineering explaining “any force that causes an object to change.” In engineering the specific change caused by stress is known as strain, and there are four possible kinds - torsion, tensile, compression, and shearing. In human terms the strain is your body’s response to physical, chemical, emotional, or spiritual forces, asking in some way that you adapt to them. Not all stress is bad; some define you, and make you stronger. But within the world today there are so many unknown stressors afflicting our body we have no chance of adapting quickly enough, especially when we feel our health is compromised through daily activities. Stop and listen to your stress and help your body overcome what ails you.
Cell phones, sugar, caffeine, chemicals, emotions, pesticides, junk food, not drinking enough water...
The human body responds to stressors by activating the nervous system and specific hormones. The hypothalamus signals the adrenal glands to produce more of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol and release them into the bloodstream. These hormones speed up heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and metabolism. Blood vessels open wider to let more blood flow to large muscle groups, putting our muscles on alert. Pupils dilate to improve vision. The liver releases some of its stored glucose to increase the body's energy. And sweat is produced to cool the body. All of these physical changes prepare a person to react quickly and effectively to handle the pressure of the moment.
This natural reaction is known as the stress response. Working properly, the body's stress response enhances a person's ability to perform well under pressure. But the stress response can also cause problems when it overreacts or fails to turn off and reset itself properly. Stress reduction devices using Biofeedback are today’s cutting edge tools for reducing these stressors and retraining your body.
Good Stress and Bad Stress
The stress response (also called the fight or flight response) is critical during emergency situations, such as when a driver has to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident. It can also be activated in a milder form at a time when the pressure's on but there's no actual danger - like stepping up to take the foul shot that could win the game, getting ready to go to a big dance, or sitting down for a final exam. A little of this stress can help keep you on your toes, ready to rise to a challenge. And the nervous system quickly returns to its normal state, standing by to respond again when needed.
But stress doesn't always happen in response to things that are immediate or that are over quickly. Ongoing or long-term events, like coping with a divorce or moving to a new neighborhood or school, can cause stress, too. Long-term stressful situations can produce a lasting, low-level stress that's hard on people. The nervous system senses continued pressure and may remain slightly activated and continue to pump out extra stress hormones over an extended period. This can wear out the body's reserves, leave a person feeling depleted or overwhelmed, weaken the body's immune system, and cause other problems such as weight gain and premature aging.
What Causes Stress Overload?
Although just enough stress can be a good thing, stress overload is a different story - too much stress isn't good for anyone. For example, feeling a little stress about a meeting that's coming up can motivate you to study hard. But stressing out too much over the meeting can make it hard to concentrate on the material you need to learn.
Pressures that are too intense or last too long, or troubles that are shouldered alone, can cause people to feel stress overload. Here are some of the things that can overwhelm the body's ability to cope if they continue for a long time:
- Environmental stress from the air, water, chemicals, and food
- Relationship stress, family conflicts, or the heavy emotions that can accompany a broken heart or the death of a loved one
- Crammed schedules, not having enough time to rest and relax, and always being on the go
Some people have anxiety problems that can cause them to overreact to stress, making even small difficulties seem like crises. If a person frequently feels tense, upset, worried, or stressed, it may be a sign of anxiety. Anxiety problems usually need attention, and many people turn to Biofeedback for help in overcoming them.
Signs of Stress Overload
People who are experiencing stress overload may notice some of the following signs:
- Premature aging
- Weight gain
- Sadness or depression
- Inability to get or maintain an erection
- Problems sleeping
- Allergic reactions, such as eczema or asthma
- Diminished libido
- Physical symptoms, such as stomach problems, headaches, or even chest pain
- Irritability and moodiness
- A feeling of being constantly pressured, hassled, or hurried
- Anxiety or panic attacks
Everyone experiences stress a little differently. Some people become angry and act out their stress or take it out on others. Some people internalize it and develop eating disorders or substance abuse problems. And some people who have a chronic illness may find that the symptoms of their illness flare up under an overload of stress.
Keep Stress Under Control
What can you do to deal with stress overload or, better yet, to avoid it in the first place? The most helpful method of dealing with stress is learning how to manage the stress that comes along with any new challenge, good or bad. Stress-management skills work best when they're used regularly, not just when the pressure's on. Knowing how to "de-stress" and doing it when things are relatively calm can help you get through challenging circumstances that may arise. Here are some things that can help keep stress under control.
- Use Biofeedback to identify what stressors are affecting your body . Biofeedback is a weight loss, anti-aging, and stress reducing technology that is used to help a person receive more information about their body than the normal senses provide. Working through sixteen different electrical channels of the body like amperage, voltage, and resistance, Quantum Biofeedback calculates reactions to over 10,000 different items that can cause stress in your body. By reducing stress, weight loss and anti-aging benefits can be seen quickly. The body is indeed electric; therefore reactivity in the body can be measured electrically with the proper tools.
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