We've all said it at one time or another: "I'm stressed out!" It's usually because we're feeling anxious, exhausted, pressured, or somehow not in control of our circumstances.
Recently I was worried about a big presentation I was preparing to give and my neck muscles felt stiff and sore. I thought, "Is this 'crick in my neck' stress?"
What exactly is stress and what does it do to our bodies?
Stress is the body's way of responding to any kind of demand. When we feel threatened, our nervous systems release hormones, including adrenaline, to help us deal with short-term challenges.
As a clinician, I know that stress can produce high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate. And ongoing stress may cause or worsen many long-term health issues, such as heart disease, digestive problems, depression, sleep problems, auto immune diseases, weight problems, and skin conditions.
Stress can trigger so many effects in our bodies. In working with people with diabetes, I know that stress can cause an increase in hormones. And these hormones can raise blood glucose levels as much as 200-300 extra points (mg/dL). To learn more about stress and diabetes, click here.
If you think you may be feeling the effects of stress, take this brief, anonymous stress screener.
What to do: I firmly believe the answer for each of us is to have a plan ready for when we feel the stress building. You need to know in advance what works for you.
Make sure your plan includes healthy options, so you don't reach for food, alcohol or pills. When you know what works and makes you feel better, you can use your personal stress relievers to bring your stress down quickly.
Here are a few ideas for personal stress relievers:
- Listening to music
- Taking a walk
- Spending time in nature
- Talking with a trusted listener
- Getting a back or foot rub
- Reading a book
- Playing with a pet
Choose three personal stress relievers and use one the next time you feel that "crick" in YOUR neck coming on.
The information provided within this site is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for consultation with your physician or healthcare provider.