Let’s talk psychological stress! There is a lot of stress in our lives, especially recently with our current COVID-19 crisis! But did you know how far stress actually impacts our bodies at a physiological level!?
Let’s first talk about two kinds of stress. We have our “acute” stress response, meaning, a stress response that lasts a matter of minutes, where your body releases certain cells throughout the body to mobilize a fight or flight response to prepare the body for injury or infections. These acute stress responses also increase pro-inflammatory responses throughout the body!
Chronic stress on the other hand, can last days to even years! Chronic stress also increases pro-inflammatory responses throughout the body, but with different consequences than short term stress responses.
The difference between the two responses is the effect of long term and short-term inflammatory responses and their impact on your immune system. Inflammation is necessary when eliminating pathogens and to initiate a healing response, however, when those inflammatory responses last for days up to years, that constant pro-inflammatory response creates malfunction and dysregulation of the immune system. This in turn predisposes you at a higher risk for chronic diseases, illnesses, and a worn-down immune system unable to fight off infection and toxins optimally.
Now, what to do to help manage stress?! Here are some helpful tips to help you manage some of the stress in your life!
- Take a break from the stressor– now this may seem impossible or difficult, but first give yourself permission to step away, even for just 10-20 minutes, to debrief and take time to yourself.
- Exercise! Exercise has so many benefits! Physically, but also mentally. Even if it is just a short walk, run, or dance session, exercise can be a very beneficial tool!
- Smile and laugh! Not only does smiling and laughing help from a mental and emotional standpoint, but smiling and laughing also induces positive physical changes in your body by stimulating many important organs, releases tension, and can activate and relieve some stress responses.
- Get social support-Now, this was much easier when we did not have restrictions on face to face contact, but with technology these days, it is much easier to stay connected! Call or Facetime a friend or family member who you are comfortable with to share your concerns for feelings. There are also many professional resources out there to reach out to in order to get the care you need!
- Mediation/Yoga– Meditation and mindful prayer help ease the mind and body! They provide a new perspective, develop a better self-reflection, and ease the mind and body of stress! Even if just for a short duration of time, meditation can provide immense benefits.