Most people know stress and anxiety has a negative effect on your health. What most people don't talk about is that both stress and anxiety often gets worse before you can work your way out of it. Managing your mental health is important for ensuring that you can enjoy the life you lead.
What happens when you get stressed?
Stress is a a physical response for when your body feels under attack, switching to a "fight or flight" mode. Your body releases chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine to prepare the body for physical action. This then leads to a rush of energy and increased focus which would be needed in a genuine "fight or flight" situation. However, later negative effects kick in such as temporarily shutting down function like digestion.
For your mental health, stress can affect your behaviours, moods and emotions even when you might not necessarily in that moment be feeling stressed. A more prolonged stress leaves people tired and drained, leading to things such as insomnia. With the mind and body being one, having negative impacts on one can eventually lead to a deterioration of the other, showing the importance of managing your stress levels.
How does anxiety differ from stress?
Anxiety is a term used describing nervousness, fear, apprehension and worrying. However, anxiety can be a attached to an unknown/uncertain outcome, a difference to an anxiety disorder where such feelings require medical attention. Upon medical attention anxiety will be identified physically by increased blood pressure or lack there of.
Stress and anxiety can be closely related whereas the anxiety disorders include things such as panic attacks, psychological phobias, social anxiety, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). One way of understanding the difference is that a lot of anxiety can stem from fear, while most acute stress is caused by external situations. This is key in establishing whether you require medical attention, while the two are very closely linked, it's key to remember that they are both different and also completely normal behaviours. When the impact of either becomes too much, impacting on your mental health you should seek medical attention as it's a serious enough problem.
How can I be proactive about managing my own mental health?
In today's busy environment, setting aside time for yourself is crucial. It is easy to get into a position when you can feel overwhelmed by the different daily tasks seeking your attention, it's important to not let this stress pile up and take some time to take a step back from it. (Anxiety and Depression Association of America)
The statement the mind is connected to the body couldn't be more true. Looking after your body, ensuring you have enough sleep, balanced diet and regular exercise has a massive impact on reducing the risk of stress and anxiety.
Understand what causes your stress or anxiety, why, is arguably the biggest step to addressing the problem(s), as once you know the cause you can then seek resolutions and if needed, medical attention direct to your individual problem. However, life can always throw up all kinds of situations even when we may have a good handle on mental health, leading to an urgent need for medical attention for your anxiety and having private medical health insurance is an easy, low-cost way of ensuring you have guaranteed help when needed.