Stressed about stress?Stress
By pH health care professionals
Stress is a part of everyday life, and you’re expected to be able to handle it, whether it’s at work or at home. But how much stress is too much stress? And is there a way to objectively measure your stress levels? Let’s take a closer look to find out.
Knowing if you have too much stress
Stress levels and how they are experienced vary from person to person based on the stressors they have as well as on how well they cope. Some people become overwhelmed quickly, while others seem to take stress in stride and even thrive on it. It really depends on the individual. So, is there a way for you to assess your stress levels? The answer is a resounding “yes!”
Ask yourself these questions
- Have you noticed changes in your weight or appetite? Has your weight been creeping up? Do you feel hungrier than normal? Or are you rapidly losing excessive weight? Stress increases cortisol hormone levels, which generally tend to make you hungrier and crave more sugar and carbohydrates. Craving salty foods more than usual may be another sign that you may not be coping well with your current stress levels.
- Are you drinking more caffeine or energy drinks just to cope? Typically, those drinks boost your energy short term. But they also can cause rebound fatigue just a few hours later, leaving you with less energy than you started with. One coffee a day should be fine for most, but needing three coffees or two energy drinks a day may be as sign that something is not quite right.
- Does your energy sag during the day? Are you refreshed in the morning after a good night’s sleep, or are you already tired? Does your energy level wane as the day progresses? Too much stress can take a toll on your energy levels.
- Have your sleep patterns changed? Americans aren’t getting as much sleep as they used to, but no matter how busy you are, you really do need that “beauty rest.” Aim for at least seven to eight hours. Keep in mind that sleep quality, how long you stay asleep, and getting into a deep, restorative sleep are all equally important factors.
- Are you exercising and recovering well? Stress may be keeping you out of the gym, but even if you do go to the gym, it may be hindering your recovery after a tough workout, according to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. People who were more stressed felt more tired and sore 24 hours after a tough workout.
- Are any of your current medical conditions getting worse? Talk to your doctor about any changes in pain, weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, rashes, and illnesses such as a cold or flu (stress can impact you immune system’s ability to fight illnesses). These conditions serve as warning signs that your health needs some attention before stress causes premature aging and more serious conditions.
- Do you have these symptoms? Take note if you are experiencing any of the following: decreased physical energy; decreased mental focus, processing and memory; decreased productivity; increasing feelings of hunger; increased blood pressure; physical changes of looking older and more worn down; graying and losing hair; gaining weight; and wrinkling of the skin. These may all be signs that stress is affecting your health and needs to be reduced.
Are there objective tests to determine stress levels?
Stress can be objectively measured. Speak with a doctor about getting a health assessment to determine the best course of action. Salivary cortisol testing at different times of the day is a noninvasive way to get useful, objective information about how your body handles your stress levels, in addition to any other tests such as hormone testing the doctor may recommend.
Enjoy Your Healthy Life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.
yes people underestimate the negative health effects of stress