Hopla talks stress

Deborah L. Hopla, Guest Writer

Stress is two major tests, a project and a presentation due next week. Boyfriend/girlfriend issues, traffic, lack of money and the list goes on and on. Stress happens to all people each and every day. Life is stressful! A little bit of stress is good for us. A little bit of stress sharpens our senses and motivates us to remember deadlines and keeps us on alert for emergency situations.

Stress can make us feel out of balance. The body creates a “fight or flight” response known as the stress response. This stress response is the body’s way of protection. So a little bit of stress goes a long way. Too much stress can cause cell mutation, heart attacks, strokes, raise blood pressure and cortisol levels.

Stress becomes a problem when it causes damage to your productivity, relationships, health and quality of life. So, recognizing stress when it is out of control is very important. Some signs and symptoms of stress overload are: being angry, agitated, or moody more times than not. Other signs and symptoms might be: feelings of being withdrawn or depressed or becoming paralyzed when facing tasks, being unable to focus or concentrate, isolating yourself from other, eating too much or too little, using alcohol or cigarettes or drugs to self- medicate.  Developing nervous habits like nail-biting, hair twirling, pacing may also be signs of stress response.

What can be done to lower stress levels? Keep an optimistic attitude, and develop a good sense of humor. Get enough rest and exercise daily. Avoid stimulants: caffeine, cigarettes. Avoid depressants: alcohol and drugs. Develop a good support system of friends and talk to them about what is stressing you. Be prepared and do not procrastinate with your work. Being prepared lowers stress.

Remember a little bit of stress is helpful but too much can alter your life.