’Tis the season to be jolly … but for some, it is a season of stress.

Becky Reid, on stress
Reid

Stress is the way your body responds to experiences and events, and it can be good or bad. Managing stress is important for your health and well-being.

Stress can help you to rise to a challenge. It allows you to engage focus, strength, stamina and heightened alertness.

The K-State Research and Extension fact sheet about stress management explains:

“The human body responds to stressors by activating the nervous system and specific hormones. The hypothalamus signals the adrenal glands to produce more of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, and release them into the bloodstream. These hormones speed up heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and metabolism. Blood vessels open wider to let more blood flow to large muscle groups, putting muscles on alert. Pupils dilate to improve vision. The liver releases some of its stored glucose to increase the body’s energy. And sweat is produced to cool the body. All of these physical changes prepare a person to react quickly and effectively to handle the pressure of the moment.”

Unfortunately, your body can over-respond or fail to reset itself. If your body is not able to resist and adapt to the stress, other problems can occur, including:

  • anxiety or panic attacks;
  • irritability and moodiness;
  • allergic reactions;
  • problems sleeping;
  • sadness or depression;
  • physical symptoms such as stomach problems, headaches or chest pain.

Learning to manage stress takes time. The first step is to identify stressors and whether you can change the situation or change your reaction. Sometimes you can identity ways to avoid, reduce exposure to or eliminate stressors completely.

There are other situations that are unavoidable, so you need to accept them for what they are, focus on what is really important, adapt to the environment and move on.

Stress should not rule your life. Learning what causes stress and different ways you can cope with it is a healthy lifestyle behavior. Managing stress will reduce pressure and anxiety, and influence optimal aging.

For more tips on stress management, plan to attend the “Keys to Embrace Aging” class series at 11 a.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Winfield Public Library, 605 College St.

Call K-State Research and Extension Cowley County at (620) 221-5450 for more information.

Source: Keys to Embracing Aging: Stress Management, Kansas State University, December 2015.

This information was provided by K-State Research and Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Specialist Becky Reid.

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