Stress is a natural part of life. The stress response is a biochemical response to a crisis to give our bodies and minds the extra “edge” we need to survive.
Stress becomes a problem, however, when it is chronic. A highly demanding job, money struggles, and difficult personal relationships can all lead to chronic levels of “background” stress. Then, when a real crisis happens, our stress response can be over the top.
When we live in a state of chronic mild to moderate stress, every body system is affected. Blood pressure rises, as does the likelihood of developing type II diabetes. Stress can trigger symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and lead to acid reflux disease. Thinking becomes cloudy and it can be difficult to remember things. The immune system stumbles and it’s easier to become ill with viral or bacterial infections. Skin conditions, like eczema, may worsen. Sexual dysfunction is common in both men and women with chronic stress, as is trouble with reduced fertility.
Luckily, stress is a manageable condition! Meditation, journaling, aromatherapy, massage, talk therapy, yoga, acupuncture, spending time in nature, exercising, and spending quality time with people you care about are all natural ways proven to reduce stress and manage stress symptoms.
It is troubling that chronic mild to moderate stress has become so common, it’s often considered a normal way of life. But it’s not! Even mild levels of chronic stress can affect your health and quality of life. Take the quick quiz below from the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley University to see where you fall on the stress and anxiety scale. Call us with the results and we’ll help you decide which stress management strategies are best for you.