What happens when you are stressed?
Stress is what you feel when you have to handle more than you are used
to. When you are stressed, your body responds as though you are in danger. It
makes hormones that speed up your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you
a burst of energy. This is called the fight-or-flight
Some stress is normal
and even useful. Stress can help if you need to work hard or react quickly. For
example, it can help you win a race or finish an important job on time.
But if stress happens too often or lasts too long, it can have bad
effects. It can be linked to headaches, an upset stomach, back pain, and
trouble sleeping. It can weaken your
immune system, making it harder to fight off disease.
If you already have a health problem, stress may make it worse. It can make you
moody, tense, or depressed. Your relationships may suffer, and you may not do
well at work or school.
What can you do about stress?
The good news is
that you can learn ways to manage stress. To get stress under control:
- Find out what is causing stress in your
- Look for ways to reduce the amount of stress in your
- Learn healthy ways to relieve stress and reduce its harmful
How do you measure your stress level?
is clear where stress is coming from. You can count on stress during a major
life change such as the death of a loved one, getting married, or having a
baby. But other times it may not be so clear why you feel stressed.
It's important to figure out what causes stress for you. Everyone feels
and responds to stress differently. Tracking your stress may help. Get a
notebook, and write down when something makes you feel stressed. Then write how
you reacted and what you did to deal with the stress. Tracking your stress can help you find out what is causing your stress and how much stress you feel.
Then you can take steps to reduce the stress or handle it better.
To find out how stressed you are right now, use this
Interactive Tool: What Is Your Stress Level?
How can you avoid stress?
Stress is a fact of life
for most people. You may not be able to get rid of stress, but you can look for
ways to lower it.
You might try some of these ideas:
- Learn better ways to manage your time. You
may get more done with less stress if you make a schedule. Think about which
things are most important, and do those first.
- Find better ways to
cope. Look at how you have been dealing with stress. Be honest about what works
and what does not. Think about other things that might work better.
- Take good care of yourself. Get plenty of rest. Eat well. Don't
smoke. Limit how much alcohol you drink.
- Try out new ways of
thinking. When you find yourself starting to worry, try to stop the thoughts.
Or write down your worries and work on letting go of things you cannot change. Learn to say "no."
- Speak up. Not being able to talk about your needs and concerns
creates stress and can make negative feelings worse. Assertive communication
can help you express how you feel in a thoughtful, tactful way.
for help. People who have a strong network of family and friends manage stress
Sometimes stress is just too much to handle alone.
Talking to a friend or family member may help, but you may also want to see a