An upcoming presentation. A doctor’s appointment. An overflowing inbox. There are many reasons each day you may feel stressed. Some stress is normal, but extended periods of stress can lead to serious health concerns.
Let’s take a look at the difference between acute and chronic stress and how you can support your body when stressed.
Acute stress vs. chronic stress
All stress affects your body, but not all stress is the same. It can be broken down into two main types: acute and chronic. Acute stress is short-term, such as getting stuck in traffic on your way to work or engaging in an argument with your partner. This “on the spot” type of stress can be good for you because the stress hormones released help your mind deal with the situation. The body is good at handling cases of acute stress and recovers quickly. Blood pressure, heart rate, or body temperature may rise for a short time but should recover quickly.
Chronic stress, on the other hand, refers to long-term stress that happens over time. Chronic stress can result from repeated exposure to situations that lead to the release of stress hormones. Over time, chronic stress can lead to serious health issues.1
Understanding the stress response
When the body perceives a threat – such as an aggressive driver on your morning commute – your body goes into an “alarm” state, in which a “fight or flight” response is activated and a rush of stress hormones are released, such as adrenaline and cortisol.
Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars in the bloodstream, and suppresses functions that would be nonessential during fight or flight. It also alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system.
In the face of acute (short-term) stress this response is necessary and effective. Once the perceived threat has passed, bodily systems return to normal. However, during chronic (long-term) stress, the continuous activation of the stress response can disrupt all your bodily processes, putting you at an increased risk of health problems.
Let’s take a look at simple ways you can support your body in times of stress.
How to support your body in times of stress
1. Identify symptoms of stress
Stress responses help your body adjust to new situations. Some stress responses can be positive, keeping you alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. For example, if you have an important test coming up, the stress response may help your body work harder and stay awake longer. However, during times of chronic stress, continued activation of the stress response may cause wear and tear on the body.
Sometimes the body will show physical, emotional, or behavioral signs of stress overload before realizing that you are stressed. Stress can manifest itself in the body in many different ways, including:
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Problems sleeping
- Change in sex drive
- Upset stomach
- Low energy and fatigue
- Muscle tension or jaw clenching
- Weight gain
- Aches and pains
- Headaches, dizziness, or shaking
2. Make a plan for success
While you may not always know when or how stress will occur, creating a plan for success can help you thrive when it does hit.
Identifying what is causing you stress is the first step in dealing with it – maybe it’s an overflowing inbox waiting for you each morning or a recurring argument with your partner. Although these are examples of acute stressors, over time, they may become chronic stress.
Pinpoint the areas in your life that are causing you stress, and think about simple ways to address them, like taking a deep breath before you open your email or trying relationship counseling.
3. Prioritize healthy habits
When experiencing stress, healthy habits are often the first things to go. You’re more likely to binge unhealthy foods, skip a workout, or not get enough sleep when stressed. Unfortunately, times of stress are when you need to prioritize healthy habits more than ever! Eating a balanced diet, regularly exercising, and getting eight to ten hours of sleep each night can be some of the most effective ways to cope with stress symptoms.
If stress keeps you up at night, try taking a sleep supplement such as Sisu Liquid Melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone that helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle. This vegan, non-GMO liquid supplement helps increase the total sleep time in people suffering from sleep restriction or an altered sleep schedule.
4. Take a break
Supporting your mental health when stressed is just as important as supporting your physical health. A relaxing break can help facilitate recovery by returning your mental and physical systems to their baseline.2 It can also help reset your mood, allowing you to return with a renewed, positive well-being and attitude.
Social breaks have also been found to be beneficial. Talking with your loved ones or colleagues allows you to share your experiences, have your feelings affirmed, and feel part of a group. This feeling of relatedness will enable people to feel recovered after the break.3
Tips for remembering to take breaks:
- Set an alarm on your phone to prompt you
- Have a friend or colleague hold you accountable, or take break times together
- Pay attention to the benefits you feel after taking a break (renewed focus, positive attitude, etc.) This will help motivate you to prioritize periods of rest.
5. Supplements can help
It’s normal for your body to need a little extra support when you’re feeling stressed. Taking a supplement that promotes relaxation is a great way to help support your body. Let’s take a look at a few of our favourite supplements:
L-Theanine, commonly found in tea leaves, helps temporarily promote relaxation. This supplement offers 250 mg of L-Theanine, per daily dosage, and is vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free. Available in capsule or chewable forms.
Each serving of this delicious, easy-to-mix powder contains 250 mg of magnesium as well as 75 mg of L-Theanine to help temporarily promote relaxation. Available in three delicious flavours: raspberry lemonade, tart cherry, and honey grapefruit!
Rhodiola Rosea has been used in traditional medicine for many years and is considered an adaptogen, meaning it exerts a normalizing effect on the body. Sisu B Calm offers a full complex of B-vitamins for the maintenance of good health, as well as 250 mg of Rhodiola Rosea extract. And, it’s vegan, non-GMO, and soy-free!
The bottom line
Stress is inevitable, and while you can’t always control when or how it happens, there are many ways to support your body in times of stress so that you can stay healthy. Identifying your stressors, recognizing physical symptoms of stress, taking breaks, prioritizing healthy habits, and taking stress supplements are just a few of the ways you can be your best self, even when you’re stressed.
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3 Waber BN, Olguin Olguin D, Kim T, Pentland A. Productivity Through Coffee Breaks: Changing Social Networks by Changing
Break Structure. SSRN Electron J. 2012 Jan 5;