We all experience stress and during this time of COVID-19 our level of stress may be high. Life events and situations affect individuals in different ways. How would you describe or what is stress? Stress is the body’s reaction to harmful situations whether they’re real or perceived. It is the body’s natural reaction to tension, pressure and change. During stress response, your heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tighten, and blood pressure rises. In some cases stress can give you strength and help you get more done. We need a little stress to make life more challenging and less boring but too much stress can be bad for us both physically and mentally. Stress can affect all aspects of your life, including your emotions, behaviors, thinking ability, and physical health and no part of the body is immune. If we have prolonged, unrelieved stress it can lead to accidental injury and serious illness. Stress means different things to different people. What causes stress in one person may be of little concern to another and some people are better able to handle stress than others. We should be able to recognize and mange stress before it gets out of control and gets the best of us. The first step to controlling stress is to know the symptoms of stress.
Ten Symptoms of Stress
- Acne breakout
- Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
- Aches, pains, and tense muscles
- Frequent sickness
- Decreased energy and insomnia
- Frequent colds and infections
- Appetite changes
- Depression or lack of interest
- Rapid heartbeat
Six Anti-Stress Stretches
- Finger Fan: Extend your arms straight in front of you with palms up. Spread your fingers as far apart as possible. Hold for 5 seconds.
- Ear to Shoulder: Lower your right ear to your right shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
- Overhead Reach: Rise your arms over head and interlace your fingers with palms facing up. Keeping your shoulders down, stretch upwards. Hold 20 seconds.
- Upper Back Stretch: Sit up straight with your fingers interlaced behind your head. Keeping your shoulders down, lift your chest and bring your elbows back as far as you can. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat.
- Knee Pull: While seated, bring one knee up toward your chest as high as possible. Hold with both hands for 10 seconds. Repeat for other knee.
- Waist Bend: Reach arms over head with fingers laced together. Facing forward with shoulder down, bend to one side from the waist. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat to other side.
Take charge of your body and use these six anti-stress stretches to reduce the stress in your life. You can do these stretches anywhere. While you are doing these stretches clear your mind, think happy thoughts or vision youself at your favorite place to relax and enjoy the beautiful view.
For more information contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office/ or in Alachua County contact either: Martha B. Maddox, Family and Consumer Science Agent at firstname.lastname@example.org
UF/IFAS EDIS Publication: Stress Management Ways to Cope http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy517