Stress! Everyone experiences it sometimes. During the lead up to the election and in the few days since President Trump came into office, stress levels have been sky high for many people. Could that stress be damaging your health?
Quick summary of what happens when you are stressed
When you feel threatened (from actual physical danger, a looming deadline, fear of the unknown, etc) your body goes into the flight or fight response. As a result, your body is flooded with hormones, particularly adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones cause many physical changes in your body which can include:
- increased heart rate
- a rise in blood pressure
- increased inflammation
None of these are good for your health! And these are just the physical issues. Stress can also lead to depression, anxiety, lack of focus and motivation, anger, drug and alcohol abuse, and social withdrawal.
Some data that suggests that acute, or short term, stress can have a positive effect on your immune system, and therefore your health. It is the chronic, long term, stress that you really have to worry about. Your body is not designed to be in flight or fight mode constantly and this is very detrimental to your health. Find more information here.
If you spend any time on social media, you can clearly see that chronic stress is a big problem in our country right now. People are constantly trying to push their point of view and fight against those who disagree, friends and family are attacking each other over the direction our country is heading, and many have given up trying to understand the “other side’s” point of view.
What to do about it
You can reduce stress in many ways. Some of the most effective methods are:
- deep breathing
- socializing (not arguing) with friends and family
- setting aside time to do things you enjoy.
I am going to add another one that is specific to this post-election period we are in but can also be used anytime:
When you listen and truly want to understand another person’s point of view amazing things can happen. Are you willing to step outside your comfort zone and make it happen? Let me know the results in the comments!