Stress Affects your Health

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This post was written by Diana via UN Volunteers

Women’s stress

Has it happened that when someone tells you that you are stressed you get defensive like “No I’m not stressed, I have no worries (I mean I have… but I can manage them, they do not affect me). But believe me somehow, although you do not “feel it” this is not always true. 

Last year I was diagnosed with "Arnolds neuralgia," a medical condition characterized by chronic pain in the upper neck, back of the head and behind the eyes. Ways in which they can be damaged include trauma (usually concussive), repetitive neck contraction, flexion or extension, and all these are as a result of - guess what: Stress. It was only then that I decided to accept that I was stressed! But up to what point do we let the stress progress in our bodies and our lives that it causes disease?

Stress is a feeling you get when faced with a challenge. In small doses, stress can be good for you because it makes you more alert and gives you a burst of energy. But feeling stressed for a long time can have a toll on your mental and physical health. 

Stress happens when people feel like they don’t have the tools to manage all of the demands in their lives. Missing the bus or arguing with your spouse or partner can cause short-term stress. Money problems or trouble at work can cause long-term stress. Even happy events, like having a baby or getting married can cause stress and even though it may seem hard to find ways to de-stress with all the things you have to do, it's important to find those ways because, as in my case, your health depends on it. 

Do Women React to Stress Differently than Men? 

One recent survey found that women were more likely to experience physical symptoms of stress than men. We do know that women often cope with stress in different ways that men. Women "tend and befriend", taking care of those closest to them but also drawing support from friends and family. Men are more likely to have the "fight or flight" response. They cope by "escaping" into a relaxing activity or other distraction. 

Can Stress Affect my Health?

The body responds to stress by releasing stress hormones, These hormones make blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar levels go up. Long term stress can cause a variety of health problems including: Mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart beats, menstrual problems, acne and other skin problems. 

How Can I Help Handle My Stress? 

Everyone has to deal with stress. There are steps you can take to help you handle stress in a positive way and keep it from making you sick. Try these tips to keep stress in check:
  • Develop a new attitude. Become a problem solver, be flexible and get organized (set limits). 
  • Relax. Take deep breaths, stretch, massage tense muscles and take time to do what you want to do. 
  • Take care of your body. Get enough sleep, eat right, get moving, don't deal with stress in unhealthy ways (alcohol, peels, drugs, etc.) 

Finally, I will add a personal recommendation based on my own case and how I am dealing with stress: "Connecting with others." Just share your stress! I mean with your friends, with your friends and family, spend time with them and enjoy those moments. 

Also get help from a professional if you need it and take time to help others as well. Volunteering in your community can help you make new friends and feel better about yourself. I am volunteering right now and I do feel less stressed already!

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Written by Diana Huaman via UN Volunteers

About Author
Diana, 21, from Peru is an International Business student and a teacher too. She would love to travel the world, study translation to learn different languages, start her own company one day and contribute to society through education.

Diana Huaman
IN HER OWN WORDS: " My name is Diana and I am 21 years old. I have a small family I love: mum and brother, and a boyfriend I adore.  I’m Peruvian and I have lived all my life in Peru and haven’t finished knowing it. My country is so big, so beautiful; I’m so in love of my country! – think you could notice that. I’m studying international business administration, although in fact I always wanted to study translation since I love learning languages, but I decided to do business because someday I want to start my own company so I can show everybody what beautiful things we have here and travel and travel around the entire world doing that, while at the same time I can help my compatriots by giving them work. I could define myself as a woman committed to every goal she sets, that loves meeting new people and very competitive!  In addition to my studies I am a teacher, which I discovered it’s kind of my real vocation. I teach children and adolescents and I believe it’s the best contribution I can make: education."


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