Stress is going to happen. There is no way to avoid it sometimes. When many of us think of stress, we think about how it can affect our minds. On the other hand, we forget about how stress can affect our bodies physically.

Longterm stress can lead to many different illnesses or conditions such as headaches, stomach disorders and depression. Risks of serious conditions such as heart disease and stroke can also be increased with stress.

Understanding how stress plays a role in both mind and body can help you better manage your stress and improve your health.

When you are confronted with a perceived threat or danger such as a car accident or touching a hot surface, stress hormones rush into your blood stream. This is call the fight or flight response. These hormones increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose levels.

Other hormones are sent out to suppress functions like digestion and the immune system. This is why individuals with chronic stress can be more vulnerable to illness. Unfortunately, other stressors can also cause this response as well.

Stress at work, money worries, or anxiety for example, can all cause this response and if they last for weeks or months, they can also compromise your immune system.

Remember that there are situations in life that you can’t change. However, you can change the way you think about the situation and your approach to it. Be willing to be flexible. Recognize when you dong have control, and let it go. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.

Try not to get anxious about situations that you cannot change. These steps may not come naturally to everyone. They may take some practice but, the peace of mind gained is well worth the effort.

Making time for fun and relaxation are essential to handling life’s stressors. Even if you only have ten or fifteen minutes to spare, use it to take care of yourself. Everyone will have a different method to relax and unwind. Here are some ideas to try:

• Take a walk

• Read a book

• Go for a run

• Have a cup of tea

• Play a sport

• Spend time with a loved one

• Meditate

• Do yoga

Remember, stress is unavoidable sometimes. However, you can change how you respond and manage it.

Brittney Tschudy, BSH, RN, TTS Hocking County Health Department, writes a weekly column published in The Logan Daily News.

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