Dealing with Stress

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There are many challenges that we face and have to handle every single day. And, as women, we frequently have to balance the demands of work, family, children, parents, finances, and health—to name just a few. These demands are frequently referred to as “stressors” and achieving a balance is “stressful.” But multiple demands on our time and energy are a part of everyone’s life. Stress is not how many demands you have in your life, but rather how you and your body respond to these demands. For some, racing to meet a tight deadline or complete a long “ToDo” list can be positive and energizing. It’s important to learn what stress is, at what point it becomes harmful, and options for how you can respond to it. Finding the right balance is essential.

Stress: A Fight or Flight Response

When you find yourself in a threatening situation---such as when a car suddenly cuts you off in traffic---your body responds with physical, mental and emotional changes. You may notice that your heart races, your mouth gets dry or your skin becomes clammy. This is called a “fight or flight” response. Your body’s immediate and natural response is to re-direct blood flow to deliver more oxygen to your arms and legs, speed up your digestion, and release a variety of hormones such as adrenalin. These changes are designed to protect you and to give you the energy you need to respond, physically and emotionally, to the situation that you are facing. But when a “flight of flight” response is prolonged or when it occurs frequently in response to everyday demands and events, this protective energizing response can have negative effects and result in stress and anxiety.

Your body is not designed to endure ongoing stress. Having your body continually “on alert” can have harmful consequences, including:

Physical: headache, tight muscles, sleep problems, dry mouth •Emotional: sadness, fear, anger confusion
Mental: increased anxiety, depression, eating problems
Addictive:...
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