Moving a loved one into residential aged care can be a challenging time for families. Coping with how your loved one is feeling and your own emotions can lead to significant stress and pressure. Many of us have an understanding that stress happens when we’re in difficult situations and that it affects how we do life. While some situations, like transitioning a loved one into aged care can’t be prevented, experts have been looking at stress and how to deal with it well.
What Is Stress?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines stress as “a reaction to a situation where a person feels threatened or anxious” and they say the symptoms “may be physical or emotional”. What makes stress particularly difficult is that anything that we may perceive as a problem to us can cause stress. Stress can occur strongly when we feel there is a problem but we feel that we won’t be able to deal with it and/or don’t have the resources to cope.
Is Stress Normal?
Experts Cherie Butts and Estner Sternberg have spent years looking into stress and its effects on the body. To a degree, when our bodies feel stress they believe it to be a natural occurrence, with our body adapting to a new situation. It is when stress is felt chronically and intensely that it can be harmful to our health, resulting in psychological and biological changes. These changes are what intensify the likelihood of becoming ill.
What Happens When We Are Stressed?
When we are faced with stress our bodies are responding in a “fight or flight reaction”. Cortisol is released in our system which diverts energy to muscles that are needed to avoid danger. While this can be helpful in the short term, i.e, making us run faster, another action of cortisol is to suppress the immune system. The National Center For Health Research says that “chronic stress causes wounds to heal more slowly than normal and leaves the body more prone to infections.”
How Do Men And Women Cope With Stress?
Dr Pilar Matud has studied the different ways men and women deal with stress. She has found that social support systems are vital in coping with stress. Her research found that the tendency to create, nurture and benefit from these social support systems, is more common in women. She found that the social support systems allowed women to copy more effectively with stress, “enhancing their immune response and resistance to diseases.”
Tips To Reduce Stress
It is important to note that experts who have looked into stress and stress management say that different approaches will work for different people. Give yourself the time to figure out the right mix of strategies to help you manage your stress.
The National Center For Health Research encourages pursuing the following stress strategies.
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