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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Effects of stress on the body

Here are some effects of stress on the body. It's important to know this in order to understand exactly how stress impacts on your life.

The central nervous system:
Anxiety, worry, insomnia and a complete nervous breakdown are all possible when prolonged or undue stress causes a reaction that can be likened to a faulty electrical system.

The skin:
Hives and certain types of eczema can occur as the skin seeks to assist the vital organs and processes of the body with an outlet for acute and chronic stress.

The digestive system:
Indigestion, cramps, irritable bowel syndrome and constipation may all be linked to undue stress, although other lifestyle and health factors may be implicated.

The respiratory system:
Breathing tends to be more superficial when stressed, resulting in poor oxygenation and faster ageing. Constricted airways are associated with conditions like asthma and croup, which are both life-threatening.

The spinal column:
Muscle tension and spasms caused by stress lead to conditions like migraines

The effects are not always the same for everyone and stress will manifest differently for different people, the above is just some common effects.

It will be helpful to monitor the way your own body reacts when you are under stress. This should give a good indication of your stress levels and what you can do to reduce it.

Insha'Allah in the next post we'll begin with some stress management techniques. Until then, May Allah (SWT) shower His Peace and Blessings on you and give you ease!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Stress Management continued... Symptoms of Stress

I hope that the last post on stress was helpful in getting people to begin to understand their own levels of stress and their reasons for stress. Insha'Allah in this post we will focus on the Symptoms of Stress.

When a person experiences too much stress over a long period of time, it starts to affect the person’s mental and physical health. It is therefore important to learn how to deal with stress before it affects your health.

Symptoms of stress- are the outcome of a person’s failure to adapt either physically or mentally to a stressor that has become too big for the human coping mechanism.

The Symptoms of Stress can be divided into three stages, going from mild to more severe:

First stage symptoms
 Constant irritability with people
 Difficulty making decisions
 Loss of sense of humour
 Difficulty concentrating
 Lack of interest in pursuing previously pleasurable activities
 Feeling tired even after an early night and finding it increasingly difficult to get up in the morning

Second stage symptoms
 Lack of appetite
 Craving food when under pressure
 Chronic insomnia or waking very early in the morning (e.g. 1:00 am) and being unable to resume sleep for several hours
 Nervous twitches, nail-biting or other repetitive, unconscious actions
 Headaches and migraines
 Eczema and asthma
 Tendency to sweat for no apparent reason

Third stage symptoms
 Change in appetite and weight
 Change in sleep patterns
 Restlessness or inactivity
 Fatigue and loss of energy
 Ongoing feeling of guilt or worthlessness
 Depressed mood or feeling down

- Which of these symptoms have you experienced in your life?

- Think of a stressful situation when you showed some of the symptoms listed above.

If you manage stress effectively then you should not even develop symptoms in stage 2 and 3.

If your stress levels have reached stage 3 then it is becoming very dangerous and you will need some sort of intervention before it becomes extremely serious.

Insha'Allah in the next post we will look at effects of stress on the body and then we will move on to management of stress.

Please feel free to leave comments and questions.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Welcome to Stress Management

Okay, so I know that my last post on this blog was really a very long time ago,  since it takes me a while to research my topics, I don't always have the time to put up posts here, but insha'Allah I will be posting regularly on here again.

I've decided to begin a series of posts on stress management, it seems that some people have found the posts on anger management to be quite useful so I hope that people find this series useful as well.

This post will just begin to introduce the topic and we will look at it in more detail in the posts that follow. As always feedback is welcomed!

What is stress?

 Everyone experiences stressful periods in their lives.

Stress:- Stress is continual worry about something. Stress prevents you from relaxing. Stress happens when you feel you cannot cope with the demands of a situation.

Positive stress:- Initially, mild stress can increase creativity and encourage productivity. Mild stress can be good for a person.

Negative stress:- Negative stress happens when someone feels powerless to cope with a problem. If a person experiences this kind of stress for a long time, it may lead to illness.

Why is it important to manage stress?

When you are stressed your body produces too much cortisol and adrenalin. These are the two major stress hormones. Cortisol is the worry hormone produced by fear and results and results in symptoms of anxiety. Adrenalin is the fight-or-flight hormone which prepares the body to react physically to a threat. If you fail to adapt to your stresses, your body can produce too much of these hormones for too long. This results in physical symptoms and even changes that lead to stress-related illnesses. Chronic stress, has been linked, for example, to high blood pressure and heart disease. High stress levels have also been found to trigger asthma attacks. Long periods of stress can also have a negative impact on your immune system, weakening your resistance to infection as well as your ability to recover. This is why it is important to learn how to manage your stress.

Identify your stressors

The factors in your life that cause stress are called stressors.

Begin by first identifying all the sources of stress in your daily life. Look back at the questionnaire How Stressed are you? This might help you to identify your main stressors. Keep a diary or make a note of it every time an event makes you feel stressed. Once you know the things that make you feel stressed, you can start to deal with them.

- Think about your life for a couple of minutes and identify your stressors:

 - At home
- At work /School
- Elsewhere

Make a list of your stressors in the different environments, it also helps to state how these stressors make you feel and what your reaction to them are. You can draw up a table with STRESSORS, FEELINGS and REACTIONS. This might make it easier for you to begin to understand your reasons for becoming stressed out.

- Identify people who are responsible for causing the stress. What is their relationship to you?

- Are you happy with the way you react to these people?
- For each example, suggest ways in which you can avoid or reduce the frequency of such stressful situations. 

Different Types of Stressors
People experience a variety of different stressors in their lives. Examples of stressors include physical, emotional, social, environmental, personality and vocational stressors. People often also experience a crisis that causes stress. No one is ever completely free of stress, regardless of their age, occupation, status or wealth.
The table below provides an example of these different stressors.

This may help you when you are identifying your own stressors.

When stressors are caused by circumstances beyond your control, they are called external stressors. Examples of external stressors include weather that is too hot or too cold, too much responsibility, long working hours, living in difficult circumstances or being physically or mentally abused.

Internal stressors are mental and physical factors that cause stress. Mental factors include personality traits, such as when a person is over-sensitive or a perfectionist. Physical factors include having a physical disability or chronic illness, or even not feeling good about yourself on a physical level.

Make a list of your personality traits that make you vulnerable to stress. You can start thinking about changes you can make in yourself that will help you to deal with stress more positively.

In order to deal with stress, the root causes of the stress need to be identified and understood, once you have done this, you can move on to finding positive and constructive ways of dealing with stress. Insha'Allah in the next post we will look at symptoms of stress and then move on to the effects of stress.

For additional information on stress and To take a short quiz to help determine if you are stressed or not you can follow the links below:

Until next time, May Allah (SWT) shower His Peace and Blessings on us all, and may He help us to remain positive and content, Insha'Allah Ameen!