4 Facts to Know About Stress
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are a few important things we should know about stress:
1. Stress is natural and takes various forms
Stress is a part of life and is something everyone experiences. Stress can be triggered by different things, for example:
Normal stressors of daily life
Greater stress brought about by a sudden negative change, such as a divorce, illness, or losing a job.
Traumatic stress experienced during a devastating event: a death, major accident, assault, or natural disaster
2. Not all stress is bad
Stress signals the body to prepare to face a threat or flee to safety. This can be life-saving in dangerous situations. When you’re stressed, you may feel physical sensations that are aimed at survival, like faster pulse or breathing or tense muscles, and your brain even uses more oxygen and increases activity. Even in situations that are not life-threatening, stress can serve as a motivator. Psychologists refer to positive stress as eustress. Eustress is the opposite of distress and can actually have benefits such as building our resilience, feeling excitement, and pushing ourselves, for example to complete a workout.
3. Long-term stress can harm your health
Chronic or long-term stress can have a debilitating effect because it doesn’t allow your body to return to normal functioning. While reactions to acute stress can be lifesaving, those same effects can, over time, disturb your immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems. Symptoms of chronic stress may include stomach problems, heart palpitations, headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger, or irritability. Over time, unresolved stress can contribute to more serious health problems, like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, including significant mental disorders such as depression or anxiety.
4. If you’re overwhelmed by stress, share your feelings with your Confidant provider
While some stress is normal, it shouldn’t be overwhelming. If you’re using substances to cope with your stress, or you feel overwhelmed by it, reach out to a provider for support. There are many ways we can support you. If your stress is making you feel suicidal, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Lifeline chat is also a service available to everyone.