Stress is a reaction to a change or a challenge. In the short term, stress can be helpful. It makes you more alert and gives you energy to get things done.
But long-term stress can lead to serious health problems. Women are more likely than men to report symptoms of stress, including headaches and upset stomach.
Stress is how your body reacts to certain situations, such as sudden danger or long-lasting challenge. During stressful events, your body releases chemicals called hormones, such as adrenaline.
Adrenaline gives you a burst of energy that helps you cope and respond to stress. For example, one kind of stress is the jolt you may feel when a car pulls out in front of you. This jolt of adrenaline helps you quickly hit the brakes to avoid an accident.
Stress can range from mild and short-term to more extreme and long-lasting. Chronic (long-lasting) stress can affect your mental and physical health.
Women are also more likely to have mental health conditions that are made worse by stress, such as depression or anxiety.
Some Effect of stress
How stress affects you mentally:
- You might experience poor cognitive function.
- It can impact on your concentration and attention span.
- You might struggle to remember things.
- It can make you pessimistic.
- You might have difficulty making decisions.
How stress impacts you physically:
- You might feel fatigued.
- You might experience skin conditions.
- Your immunity can be lowered.
- You might sleep poorly.
- You could experience headaches.
- You might have an upset stomach.
- You could feel muscle tension.
How stress affects your wellbeing:
- Stress lowers your mood.
- It creates anxiety.
- Stress can make you feel irritable.
- You can be quick to anger.
- You might feel impatient.
- You could feel nervous.
13 ways you can manage stress
- Take deep breaths. This forces you to breathe slower and helps your muscles relax. The extra oxygen sends a message to your brain to calm and relax the body.
- Stretching can also help relax your muscles and make you feel less tense.
- Write out your thoughts. Keeping a journal or simply writing down the things you are thankful for can help you handle stress.
- Take time for yourself. It could be listening to music, reading a good book, or going to a movie.
- Studies show that meditation, a set time of stillness to focus the mind on a positive or neutral thought, can help lower stress. In addition to traditional medical treatments, meditation also may help improve anxiety, some menopause symptoms, and side effects from cancer treatments and may lower blood pressure. Meditation is generally safe for everyone, and free meditation guides are widely available online.
- Get enough sleep. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night to feel rested.
- Eat right. Caffeine or high-sugar snack foods give you jolts of energy that wear off quickly. Instead, eat foods with B vitamins, such as bananas, fish, avocados, chicken, and dark green, leafy vegetables. Studies show that B vitamins can help relieve stress by regulating nerves and brain cells. You can also take a vitamin B supplement if your doctor or nurse says it is OK.
- Get moving. Physical activity can relax your muscles and improve your mood. Physical activity also may help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. Physical activity boosts the levels of “feel-good” chemicals in your body called endorphins. Endorphins can help improve your mood.
- Try not to deal with stress in unhealthy ways. This includes drinking too much alcohol, using drugs, smoking, or overeating. These coping mechanisms may help you feel better in the moment but can add to your stress levels in the long term. Try substituting healthier ways to cope, such as spending time with friends and family, exercising, or finding a new hobby.
- Talk to friends or family members. They might help you see your problems in new ways and suggest solutions. Or, just being able to talk to a family member or friend about a source of stress may help you feel better.
- Get help from a professional if you need it. Your doctor or nurse may suggest counseling or prescribe medicines, such as antidepressants or sleep aids. You can also find a therapist in your area using the mental health services locator on the top left side (desktop view) or bottom (mobile view) of this page. If important relationships with family or friends are a source of stress, a counselor can help you learn new emotional and relationship skills.
- Get organized. Being disorganized is a sign of stress, but it can also cause stress. To-do lists help organize both your work and home life. Figure out what is most important to do at home and at work and do those things first.
- Help others. Volunteering in your community can help you make new friends and feel good about helping others.